We are celebrating 15 years married (19 years together).
When these ‘round-number’ milestones come up, there is a wave of ‘should we do something special?’ that washes over you. And when you talk about it, and the date still seems so far away, you can easily brush it off with rational answers like ‘we don’t have the money’, ‘we are pretty busy’, or ‘let’s save up for something bigger’.
There are always reasons NOT to do something.
And usually, I base my decisions on all the reasons to NOT do something. My default mode is ‘conserve energy, avoid going out, and if you do go out come home early’.
I’ve been working on this for years now. (#typenineproblems)
Yet, when it comes to a getaway with my husband, I become untethered to rationale and logic. Instead, I get scrappy. I hunt down deals and ideas. I research options. I comb through rewards points and bank accounts. I plot and save and look for a way to make it happen.
I am ruthlessly prioritizing getaways with my husband. I think a big part is the total absence of ‘date night’ in our lives. Unless you consider a date night to include a sporadic porch hang, a tv session on the couch, or a puzzle and old fashioned at the table.
A foundational reason I irrationally prioritize this now, more than ever, is seeing the experience my parents have had over the last 15 years.
As my parents counted down the days to retirement, they were telling us their dreams of travelling to all the warm places of the globe. It would be an apt reward for all their decades of raising four kids, building homes, working full-time jobs with side hustles (before it was even cool), and constantly sacrificing for the family.
It is important to have goals to work towards, hope matters when it comes to motivation. We can be greatly motivated to put our heads down and keep doing the work when we know there is a sunbeam for two on a tropical beach waiting in our future.
As my parents retired, my mom developed early-onset dementia. I watched my parents try and make travelling work through the hurdles that this condition presented. I watched them hold the dreams of their Golden Years at arm’s length, trying to enjoy what would now be available. And as the disease progressed, there would be less and less available. There was less and less gold.
We hear sentiments all the time about
living in the moment,
that life is precious,
and not to take it for granted.
We are almost numb to these tired sayings until we are doused with a bucket of ice water called Real Actual Life. Whether it touches our own life or the lives of those whose story you want to be ‘and they lived happily ever after (with the health and wealth to enjoy a few more decades of life)’.
I will be another voice on the hill echoing how precious all of this is.
Every day we wake up and our loved ones are healthy enough to get through the day.
Every morning we can sit on the porch with our coffee like the ‘rich’ people we are.
Every week we get through without turmoil or crisis forcing us to detour our lives drastically.
Every year that passes where we are still willing to sit side by side on the couch and talk about our day.
I read once that we are not entitled to any of it, it is all grace and love and blessing and mercy – a gift to us. It is a humbling sentiment that I both resist and submit to. I want all the comforts and pleasures and people in my life for my whole life.
But Real Actual Life tells us that is not the way.
And of course, I don’t want Real Actual Life to just call the shots. I need to consciously mine for gold in my life, to splurge on some things, to intentionally celebrate most things, and to be aware and grateful of all things.
So I will continue to plan getaways with my husband, even if some years it means the most frugal plans possible, so be it.
What is important to me is knowing that we had gold in all our years. Rather than waiting for the Golden Years, that we didn’t delay or deny ourselves opportunities to enjoy our hard work (and I mean hard work in our marriage, our jobs, our lives, and ourselves). It should all be celebrated from time to time.
I sometimes worry that I make fear-based decisions, or have a scarcity mindset when it comes to how I approach life as a response to my mom’s dementia. (Something I’ve talked about in the Meeting Your Needs episodes). I know I can be driven by the worries of not wanting to develop dementia myself, and by ambient anxiety of ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’. I know there is scarcity there.
I used to think abundance lived in the future ‘it will all work for the good, it will all work out’ and I believe that still, where hope and faith can replace anxiety, that can be true.
Yet I also see that abundance is most potent in the right now. It is available here. In these perfect little moments
I found it on our anniversary trip.
On the porch, sitting in the sun with a coffee
Along the quiet river, where we sat and chatted before lying in the cool currents
In the boyish smile of my husband popping a wheelie as we biked around
I could wait for my Golden Years to sit back and admire all this, but instead, I find gold woven through my daily life.
Scarcity and fear might drive us to hustle. It might feel like urgency and worry and worst-case scenarios. It might make us think there is no gold available at all, or that it is only in the pot at the end of a treacherous mountain disguised as a rainbow.
Abundance tells us there is always enough, that what is for us will be there, and we don’t have to break our backs hustling for it. It tells us to trust in the process. Which is hard to do when we know the process involves Real Actual Life.
So my strategy is to celebrate more often in my Real Actual Life. Celebrate the people I still have here, the abilities, the comforts, the options, and the monotony of it all. And for me, I also celebrate the God who sees me and smiles at this, They are the same God who holds me when I struggle with not having it.
This is what I have come to, from watching my parents. Their journey has broken my heart open. It has made me see how precious life is. It has opened my eyes to the real possibility that all our plans might not work out. We have no guarantees, we just have today.