I'm well aware that life doesn't always turn out the way we hope. Sometimes our plans are derailed by circumstances beyond our control, and sometimes plans change because we change. But patterns emerge in the way we navigate our everyday lives, and these are the choices, like strokes on a canvas, that make up the broader picture of the lives we carve out for ourselves.
I've had some experiences lately that have made me recommit to living purposefully and to owning my life rather than being defined by my circumstances. My life, choices, and opportunities will look different than yours, and that's okay.
For where I am and what I have right now, this is the life I choose:
I choose to have an awesome marriage. Marrying Jay is the best choice I've ever made. We complement each other well, and we're committed to a relationship of equals. We support each other, we consult each other, and we co-parent. We are both the head of our household. We choose to make financial, business, and family decisions together. We aren't perfect, but we forgive each other.
I choose to have as many or as few children as we want/are able to have, regardless of anyone else's opinions or advice. There's weird stigmas in my church culture for families with fewer kids and there's weird stigmas in the broader culture for families with many kids. I refuse to let that influence me when we decide what's right for our family.
I choose to be a good parent. This will look different for me than it does for other people, and that's fine. There's no one right way.
I choose to be home with my children while they are small. Not everyone has this choice, and I'm grateful I do. It's a decision I feel conflicted about often, and it's one I've given myself permission to change when it doesn't feel right anymore.
I choose to be Mormon. Despite the fact that my faith is no longer orthodox, despite the fact that church is very often painful for me, I choose to stay because I want to. It's my tribe. Making this choice intentionally has been very liberating for me. I choose to be as open and authentic as I can about where I am and what I believe while maintaining respect for others and my own sense of safety. There is no one way to be Mormon, and I choose to take the pieces that work for me and leave the rest behind.
I choose to put myself and my family first. I choose to say no to things that are too much of a drain on my physical/emotional resources or my family relationships, regardless of whether it's a business opportunity, a church calling, a service request, or a social event. I will redraw and maintain my boundaries as needed.
I choose to be an advocate for people and causes that are important to me. I will pick my battles and stand my ground and change the world.
I choose to love people as they are, not as I think they should be. I'm not great at this one. I'm working on it.
I choose to be responsible financially. This may look different for us than it does for you. For us right now, it means paying down our loans as quickly as possible, having a solid emergency fund, saving for retirement, never carrying a balance on a credit card, and paying cash for our cars. It means filing taxes honestly and on time. It means not taking anything for granted and being generous with what we have.
I choose to share my gifts with others. Will there always be someone who could do it better than me? Yes. But I'll do it anyway, and hopefully without apology.
I choose to love my body as it is now, not as it was or as it "should" be. On days I struggle with how my body looks, I choose to close my eyes and focus on how it feels to be alive--sometimes good, sometimes not great, but always rich and sensual and so much bigger than my perceived attractiveness. I choose to be in pictures without a fuss. I choose to not say much at all about my appearance in front of my daughters but to frequently express gratitude and wonder for my body.
"There is no better time in all the world to make important choices than at the beginning of a...new year, for we literally become the product of our choices. Our choices determine our destiny." - Thomas S. Monson