Ernest Hemingway has always been one of my favorite authors. One of the great American novelists, he has written volumes about life in the tropics that have appealed to me...I suppose it doesn't hurt that one of his favorite places is also a place that I cherish: Key West.
I've spent many a sunny afternoon wandering around the streets of Key West, thinking about how inspired he must have been during his time there. The heat, the sandy beaches, the gentle lapping of the waves on the pier at Mallory Square...Key West has one of the most beautiful sunsets on earth, and whenever I am there to witness it, I can't help but feel a sense of closeness with Hemingway - to see what he saw, to perhaps feel what he felt.
Like Hemingway, I am inspired by the tropics. (No, I am not comparing myself to Hemingway, don't get your panties in a bunch.)
I'm here at the Bridgetown Hilton in Bridgetown, Barbados celebrating my 11th wedding anniversary. Our anniversary isn't until the 27th, but with my husband being sent here for work, I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a free hotel room and all of the perks of his Hilton HHonors rewards program membership...this trip would have never been affordable if we had to pay for both our flights, hotel, food, rental car, etc.
Hey, I'm a smart chick, I learn to take advantage of savings on travel whenever I can!
As I was sitting on the beach this morning, I started thinking about how far my husband and I have come in the eleven years we've been together. We went through a whirlwind romance and married within 6 months of dating...when we married, I was 23 and he was 24. I was a young, broke, struggling single mom and he was a carefree bachelor in the military.
I am a planner. When we married, we spent long evenings talking about what we wanted to accomplish in our lives together. We discussed things like where we wanted our careers (his in the military and mine in HR) to go, what kind of financial plan we would put together, whether or not we wanted more children (Angeline was three at that time)...we made plans. We made plans for accomplishing our plans.
Things went well for a while. He succeeded, I succeeded, Angeline began getting older and we settled into life. What happened next was what always happens - our plans changed.
Whereas my career and financial contribution to the family had always been so important to me, I found myself in a place where I knew that I would be happier at home.
I never thought, in all of my 31 years prior to that moment, that I would ever want to be a housewife.
But in the end, I did. It was what I wanted, what I knew my daughter needed, and what I thought would ultimately make us a happier family. And for the most part, my leaving the work force and staying at home has been of great benefit to us all.
In eleven years, I went from being an independent, proud single mom to being a happy housewife. A happy housewife.
I would have never thought that it would be possible...but here I am, spending my days blogging, dropping my daughter off at school and mopping the floors in between loads of laundry.
How on earth did that happen?!
I will tell you how it happened.
At some point, I stopped worrying about the destination and focused on the journey. My new motto became "Life is a journey, not a destination." I stopped making lists of things I wanted to accomplish at midnight on New Year's Eve. I stopped worrying about where I wanted to be in five years...I started living in the present, letting my heart guide me, and doing what made me happy.
I may not be earning anywhere near what I did when I was working for my last employer, and we may not be able to buy the things we did when I was contributing to our income, but we manage. We find ways to do the things we want to do, and when we can't, we still enjoy ourselves at home. We fix our cars instead of buying new ones. I experiment with gourmet recipes at home instead of going to expensive restaurants all of the time. We make it work. It doesn't hurt that my husband has an awesome job, of course.
When I was sitting on the beach this morning, I began thinking about what Chris and I have accomplished in our eleven years together. We bought our first home, we've bought nice cars, he's acquired an impressive list of certifications and degrees, our daughter has grown into a smart, sensible and sweet teenager...but more than anything, I realized that we have somehow created the American Dream. I didn't think that existed anymore.
Sounds corny, right?
I know, and maybe it is corny. But it's my life, and I love it...and I am so thankful for every minute of it.