Visiting the past, perhaps the homes of thrifty depression era mamas lovingly caring for their broods or the rolling hills Elizabeth Bennet strolled, has its appeal. My own kitchen was inspired by pictures of 1930’s era domesticity, and like many women of that era raising my children has been an important part of my life. Gathering with other young mothers, filling my kitchen with the aroma of good food, and learning how to manage a home filled my days. It seems home, family, and relationships were more highly valued then and a woman could feel good about her desire to indulge herself in such pursuits, no apologies necessary. Traveling further back to the settings of Jane Austen’s novels also seems appealing. What beautiful countryside her characters enjoyed, their clothing was lovely, and relationships were precious though marrying for money rather than love had its concerns.
Longing for the past, seemingly simpler and more romantic times, can bring joy but it may also keep us from the satisfaction of living in the present. Today is where I want most to be. There are times when I have thought more highly of myself than I ought especially when it came to mothering and morality and if I could relive those days I would consider the feelings of others much more important than I did then. But alas I cannot go back so I must use those lessons for good in the present and apologize for past mistakes.
It is particularly meaningful that I choose the present over visiting any other time as I am struggling with depression following a difficult season of helping to care for my father as he has succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease. What is most wonderful at such times is the feeling of hope that life will get better, that things which drain my energy today will once again give me no reason for pause. I am learning here the importance of allowing myself space, of clearing the calendar, enjoying a slower pace, simplifying my days, and accepting where I am even if I don’t like feeling as I do. Certainly I am not alone in my struggles both in the sense that those dear to me are loving me and supporting me and many others wrestle with the same challenges. How great it is to be able to encourage others, to comfort as I have been comforted.
Recently I related how I am learning to take life at a slower pace and how that may need to be a way of life for me not just a season. “Is that okay?” the conversation continued. “Yes,” I replied, “because I want to help others and I believe this is an important message.” It is okay to get off life’s merry go round, to breathe, to take life in instead of rushing through each day. It is important to live doing what we were created to do but allowing ourselves to be overcome by anxiety, feeling heavy laden with responsibility is not living.
Escape in yesterday or dream about tomorrow but enjoy today. If you need permission to take life more slowly, to not only survive but thrive, you have the freedom and the power to say yes to yourself.
This post was inspired by the weekly writing challenge: time machine.