I’m not sure exactly when it was or where I heard the saying “life is what you make it”, but that is something that has always stuck with me. Regardless of the situations I’ve been in, I’ve repeatedly thought to myself it is what I make of it. Sometime just before graduating from college I made an album on my Facebook page (and yes it is still kicking) that I titled Life Is What YOU Make it. The album basically consists of photos of, well, me. Let me be more descriptive here. The photographs range from pics of me as a toddler to college and events etc. But that isn’t what this post is about.
At the close of 2015 and the start of 2016 I decided that I would get my happy back.
It is something that I spoke about via my Tumblr page back in 2013 when I was in Florida. I felt I needed to get to that care-free happy place again, especially at a crucial time in my life (I was at my QLC point). I looked over my current situations and re-evaluated just about everything – friendships, relationships (family, love and lust), career and education and memories both bad and good. Sometime in early to mid March 2016 I decided I’d quit a job that I actually enjoyed to free up some time for myself, family, writing and fun. I decided that I would no longer stress or think about people or failed friendships. If they could not see and appreciate me then so be it and I would no longer waste my love, energy and joy on people who only viewed me as an option or a source of entertainment when they needed. I decided that dammit it, I am a young, intelligent 24 year old who should be enjoying life and ceasing all opportunities not just educational and career wise. I needed to stop stressing and planning for work, retirement and my future and just simply enjoy now.
One of the majors things, or should I say people, I began to give more time and attention to is my mother. My mom is 50 years old, unemployed and since our car accident has been a homebody. I felt like our Saturday outtings weren’t enough. I wanted to do more, she needed to experience more. I remember taking my ma out for a hot air balloon ride. Being able to experience her facing her dislike for flying and seeing the joy relived in her every time she told someone about her experience I realized this is what I should be doing on my weekends. I’ve been battling a fear of my parents, mainly my mother, aging and the thought of loosing her that I wasn’t aiding much to her enjoying life now. A woman who has spent her life raising not only her children, but others as well, and caring for all people, she deserves someone to do that for her.
I realized that I could do this for her in mid April. It was midnight and I had just come home from Las Vegas. My mother sat in the livingroom trying to stay awake to see me in. When I walked through the door she smiled and said “good, you’re in. I’m going to bed.” At 24 I fully realized that although I cannot stand for her to worry, I loved that someone cared so much about me and my well being. The next day she asked about my trip and how I handled the drive. I drove alone from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, my first solo roadtrip. It scared her a bit. After sharing, my mom admitted that she was so glad to have me back as she’d been bored. Prior to Vegas I was in Alabama and before that I was stuck with jury duty. During the week I work and sleep and conversation with my mom (well anyone) is really brief. She told me that she’d missed our Saturday outtings. I waited for her to say what she wanted. She didn’t. I told her we would be back on our Saturday dates and she didn’t have to worry. She excitedly asked if we could go to the movies and to eat IF I had time and wasn’t tired. I told her that didn’t matter there is always time for her, when did she want to go and what did she want to see. The week following my return and leading up to the movie date she was happy. She would say little things here or there about going out. I shared with her that I wanted to go to the Grand Canyon and if she’d ever been. She said no. I asked her why hadn’t we gone, I mean we’ve lived in California my whole life and Arizona is basically next door. She said she didn’t know why we’d never gone before. I asked her if she wanted to go. She said sure. I said okay cool we’ll go the last weekend of the month. And that was that.
Yesterday, April 30th was that day. We’d left the house at 3:15am and hit the road to Arizona. I drove the miles to see and experience something new with my mother. It was well worth it to say the least. I’m not a parent, but for those of you who are, you know that feeling you get when you get to provide your child with something they wanted or something simple like a visit to a theme park and their reaction is just priceless and makes your heart smile? I felt like that 10 times over when we walked the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I watched my mom look out into nature, leaning on the railing smiling and repeating “wow” like a child.
“I never thought I’d see something like this in my lifetime. It’s beautiful. Thank you Viola.” When she said that, smiled and looked at me and looked back over the Canyon I wanted to cry. Why hadn’t I done this sooner? My mother is 50, spent her life catering to my sister and I, is standing here winded and pushing through knee pains to enjoy this with me. The whole trip she didn’t complain, she wanted to do whatever I wanted to do and was willing to ignore any ailments to not ruin my fun when in fact my fun was watching her have fun. To hear my mother say that she’ll take this memory with her when she dies was bitter sweet, but it made me proud to know that I gave her that. It made me cherish her even more and want to give her more moments like that.
Just to think months prior to this trip I was working 3 jobs, freelance writing for a website, beating myself up for not being accepted yet again into a graduate program and had “no time for fun.” Life truly is what you make of it and once you change your mindset, you can achieve the life you want…
*Again, just as with any really personal pieces I am all over the place and in writing it may not flow well and will end abruptly, but I was compelled to share this after looking at the photos we took on our trip and her telling others about her experience. I thank you for reading and there is definitely more to come!