13 December 2011

Random Acts of Wisdom: Regrets

"Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets."
~ Arthur Miller
{"Regret" mini art feeling from Art Mind on Etsy}

When I hit my 40th birthday, I made a statement that my living would serve two purposes: to live a creative life and to live without regret. I think that I have worked hard to fulfill my first quest, but there is still a lot more that I could do, and I am not talking about making more necklaces or writing more magazine articles. Sometimes it is as simple as finally picking a color to cover the drab taupe walls that came with the house, or to put the pictures of my kids in frames and actually hang them on the wall. I am working on that.

But that second one, boy is that the tough one.

Perhaps it was naive of me to think that I could live a life without regrets. All life is filled with choices every day, and each choice implies a corresponding regret. I chose not to buy that double chocolate chip peanut butter scone this morning and now my stomach is letting me know that regret. Sometimes we agonize more over the small choices we are faced with every day, rather than grapple with the big ones that will have a mightier impact on our regret level. It is far easier to deal with that hunger pain.

When I made that declaration, it was with the intent that I was going to turn my hobby into my job. Little did I know how challenging living up to that statement would be. I am working at that every single day, I think I have what it takes, but yet here I am, 3 1/2 years later sitting in the same chair and going nowhere. I know that there are those who argue that I should not do that, that trying to make something that you love to do into your life's work spells disaster for continuing that love.

I beg to differ.

I think that you need to be loving what you do to feel fulfilled. I speak from experience in that my daily life is so uninspired, so unfulfilling. My most fundamental needs are not being met, and that crushes me just a little bit each day.

I have a fundamental need to do things that are creative.

I have a fundamental need to tell stories.

I have a fundamental need to connect to other people, to encourage, inspire and educate.

I am trying fiercely to align my fundamental needs with the choices that I make. But I won't lie. It has been very hard.

"Some choices hold you down.
Some chances set you free."
~Christine Kane

Every year at this time it seems that I come back to this same theme. It makes me feel just a bit helpless and sad that I have this recurring theme, that I can't get my own record unstuck from the groove that it is sticking in, when it is infinitely easy for me to nudge others.

There are a thousand choices that we are faced with every day. Each choice represents a path that we can follow setting up a whole new set of choices. A sort of 'Choose Your Own Adventure' for real life. And if you are like me, you see every chance as an opportunity and want to leap at it. It might be an open door that could lead you to a whole new set of options, perhaps the one that will set you free.

But maybe I am making the wrong choice by waiting for that pefect chance. Perhaps I need to create my own chances if I really want to be set free.

Is it possible to end up with the 'right regrets'? What would that look like for you?

For me, the right regret would be having less money in my pocket, but more time in my studio doing something creatively fulfilling, what I feel called to do. The right regret would be giving up a daily commute, but having time to volunteer in my children's schools, make actual dinners and maybe even clean my house. The right regret would be to sacrifice a steady and necessary income, but loving what I do every day and not having to wait until 10pm to get started each night. (Oh, daylight hours! How I long to see you!)

But my biggest regret is that I lack the courage to make these 'right regrets' a reality, even though I am chipping away at it every day.

Your turn...
What would the 'right regrets' look like for you?
What choices are holding you down?
What steps could you take to create your own chance to be set free?


Alice said...

A very thoughtful post, and very fitting for this time of year when we look both to the past and to the future.

I'm with you on the regrets. For a couple years I've been wanting to try new mediums in my jewelry, and even mediums that have nothing to do with jewelry. Things like having enough time,money, talent, energy, supplies, MONEY, contantly hold me back. I feel like I'm watching from the sideline of an important game and forgot to suit up. Those voices in my head are pretty loud, especially the one about being good enough to run with the big dogs.

Funny how I have so much faith in others who want to try new things---like you my dear. In the end, you'll make the right choice when the perfect choice comes along.

Silver Parrot said...

Well, from where I sit, you seem fabulously successful at your creative goals. I would love to have achieved the things you have over the last couple of years! Keep at it - I have no doubt that you'll get to that next phase!

Also, I am dying for those snowflakes. They are totally perfect!

Unknown said...

Erin, you put things so eloquently and are mirroring some of my own thoughts and struggles. One year ago I quit my job to become a full-time mom, but it has been a financial struggle, in the spring I became a bus driver to bring some income back into the family. But I have wanted to grow my business, be creative and do creative things, but I find that my timetable it not a good one and everything seems to be falling down around me. I don't have a very tidy house these days we are not eating the best suppers in the world and I feel stressed. I would like to dedicate some time to my business in the evenings but my youngest daughter is sleeping on the bus in the afternoons and not going to sleep until 10:00pm or later no personal time for Mommy. I have questions too about whether I am following my true calling or is it fanciful thoughts on my part??? I wonder too am in stuck in the complaining side of things and not looking for solutions to these problems, because I truly believe anything is possible I just need to fix my impossible.

You have mad skills and I believe that you have success shining on you!! I believe that if you can take the risk and follow your true passion you and everyone surrounding you will be much happy and your will feel more fulfilled. You were the person who put me onto Christine Kane and she believes that entrepreneurs are more secure financially then employed people. I can't remember the exact article but it really makes you think about being employed versus self-employed. I have been wondering about having a successful business, and I know it takes alot and I know that the universe as well as our own hard work and skills and helping hands from others is what will build that business.

I could carry on about this because it has been on my mind but I will stop. Thank you for sharing this post Erin!!!

Much love,

Erin Siegel said...

Erin, you are doing all the right things. You know exactly what you want and what you need to do, you've said it all right here. Every word you've said here is right on. You just have to stay steadfast on your goals and I know you have been doing that wholeheartedly. Stay focused on what you DO want and try not to think about what you don't want. That is the KEY, my friend. Take that from someone who's done it in her own life. By no means am I perfect, I've got a lot I need to work on myself, but I have been able to bring what I want into my life. The law of attraction, baby. It works! The universe will bring it to you. Stay positive and follow your gut and your passion. It will always lead you to the right opportunities and connections you need to make. I'm pretty sure you know all of this and have known it for a long time now, you just have to BELIEVE...and believe and have faith in yourself. That's much easier said than done, but you can do it.

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

Really awesome post Erin! You have touched on a subject that many have or are thinking about. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, very honest and inspiring. Time for me to reflect...

p.s. I think you are an awesome success, not just by what you have created and accomplished (your simple truths are brilliant, your published pieces are impressive and your writing is inspiring), but also the joy you bring to others just by being you! :)

Cynthia said...

Miss Erin, you are much too hard on yourself! You work very hard and it shows. Those of us that have been inspired by you, have followed your blog, and buy your creative output can testify that you are, indeed, making progress toward your goal. There are lots of little regrets along the way, especially for someone striving for the "ideal". But, if you take a moment to look back with a wide angle lens, instead of a magnifying glass, you'll see how far you've come. It's not a race - you will get there!
The decision about the cookie: while in the short term, you wish you'd eaten it because you were hungry, in the long term, you'll be glad you didn't eat those extra calories! In fact, you likely made the better decision.
Maybe cut yourself some slack, and allow yourself to get "there" eventually - no time limit! Enjoy the journey!

SummersStudio said...

As always, I like hearing about what you are thinking. And as always, I find it thought provoking in a very good way. I haven't really thought about the idea of 'right regrets' and I find that an intriguing concept. I think I do understand where you are coming from on this one. Creative success and creative time are not necessarily the same thing are they? I would say, as others have, that creative success is something you have in abundance. But having the time to follow that path is another thing entirely and that I think is what becomes frustrating. I don't mean leisure here. Rather the time to follow that path without the competition for for that time.

Right regrets? I think I've made a few of those in my life. One important one is too personal to talk about openly. The other important one is quite aligned with the questions you have. When we moved back to this country I made the conscious decision not to stay on my career path. I was actually quite successful in my profession and I'd studied and worked hard to get where I was. I loved my last job and the work itself was fulfilling and meaningful. But it was a major time competitor with the things I wanted to do with my life. Leaving my career was at times frightening. There would be no going back because I would be out too long. There was the fear of losing the income. In hind sight, I recognize a fear of failing in anything new that I might do. Although I didn't see or acknowledge that at the time. I've been out for nearly 7 years now. At times I've missed the income. At times, but no longer, I had anxiety and something like regret about abandoning a career I'd trained so long for. I know friends and family questioned what I was doing. But at the end of the day, it was a good decision. My (our) needs have become simpler. I'm happier and my family is happier. It's not just about having the creative time. But having it means I feel more like me. I don't know if that makes sense but that is at the heart of my happiness and I think people around me benefit from that.

Indeed, Erin, aligning your fundamental needs with your choices is hugely daunting and difficult. But that you explore the reasons you make your choices and you define for yourself what you need to live a fulfilling life is the most important step in making changes in your life. It takes time to pare things down to what is most important and I think you've done a brilliant job of it for yourself.

lunedreams said...

I feel your pain! This theme comes up again and again in this community, and I think about it often myself.

You are right, choices always lead to regret--because choosing one thing means you do not choose the other thing. If you choose the red dress, you don't get the black dress. If you choose Dave, you don't get Steve. Unless Steve and Dave are into that kind of thing.

When I imagine myself doing jewelry full time as a living, self-employed, the picture seems ludicrous. My BF doesn't make much money, I have negligible savings, and I am sorely lacking in certain business and sales skills. Just thinking about chucking my job for that makes me feel panicky and overwhelmed. How on earth would I make it work?

But if those areas were suddenly covered? If I had enough savings to float us while I grew my business, and if I had a solid business plan and knew I could carry it out, I would do it right now.

Is it really the pocket money you're worried about? It sounds like all the other pieces are in place, and you don't seem to me like someone who is addicted to buying "stuff". Is it maybe just fear of success? Fear of how your life would change if you were suddenly unleashed and fully energized? I have found myself afraid of those things before--how my life would change, and what if it got away from me? I might have to make some difficult choices. Do you already know what it is you're really afraid of?

rosebud101 said...

Life throws us curves everyday. We learn to cope. We learn what helps us and what doesn't. We adapt. At least, that's the way it's been with me. I have goals and dreams, but I know that they might not be met. That's okay. Life happens. I still find the time to play and grow creatively. It helps to be retired. I'm happy and without regrets!

Brandi Hussey said...

Based on your definition of it, I feel like I'm living a life of right regrets.

And I love that.

The reality, though, is that I often have to remind myself that I made the right choice. The reality is very much what you've described, and ever so slightly different.

I don't have a lot of money. Savings? Pfft, what's that? Every monetary choice now comes with a lot of debate. Do I need that? How bad do I want it? Can I afford it?

Sometimes I wish I could afford to do more or buy what I want without worrying what else I'd have to give up. Frivolous shopping was one of the first things to go.

This isn't a life for everyone, because it is a life of sacrifice or trade-offs. Not everyone's ready for that, and not everyone wants it or can deal with it. But for me, it's worth it.

And I think if it's something you can't let go of, then you should go for it, too.

Hmm... this has sparked a blog post idea!

Sarah Sequins said...


I'm new to your blog, but from what I've seen so far, you're very creative and have great ideas -- I mean, look at what a success your color challenge was! There's no doubt in my mind that you'll continue to succeed.

You're right about creating your own perfect chance. There are opportunities all over the place, and they may or may not be the right ones -- the best, and also the scariest, thing is to create your own.

I'm trying to figure out how to do that for myself, and I love creative brainstorming. If you ever need a creative brainstorming buddy, or just someone to bounce ideas off of, drop me an email! I live for that sort of thing.

steufel said...

That my friend is a tough question. And to be honest, I try to avoid thinking of that, because I'm afraid to find sooo much wrong regrets. And I can totally relate to the pain you are in. I think many of us can realte to that being stuck between what is rational and necessary and what we really want and long for. Thanks for reminding me to think about the right regrets to make:-)

Jeanniek said...

Oh Honey, we should talk.

What's that quote, "If it doesn't work out there will never be any doubt that the pleasure was worth all the pain.”
Something like that. Anyway..Sometimes you just have to jump off the deep end.

Rebecca said...

It's very easy to say from just reading your wonderfully positive and inspirational blog, that I am surprised that you have doubts and that you seem totally sorted and together from where I'm sitting, but I don't think that's either helpful or truthful! We've all got doubts. We've all got things that we wish we could change, could have done differently.....I hope it is helpful if I do tell you that you are an inspiration to me (and many others, I am sure); that even if you feel you have a long way to go to make your dreams a reality, you are doing many things that I really and truly look up to you about. I have so many similar doubts and regrets.....more about the singing side of my life than jewellery making (which I'm pretty happy just bobbing along - I have no illusions that I will ever necessarily be a Lorelei, a Lori or an Erin :-)) but somehow turning 30 has made me feel terribly old and past it and like I've let all my chances slide.......so if there's comfort in solidarity, perhaps you can find that with me! We make sacrifices for other people. And that's part of what makes you 'you'. Thanks Erin, for sharing how you feel. x x x

indigo heart said...

erin, i am so sorry you've been feeling down. i want to let you know that i am deeply inspired by you and your work. this time of year is hard on a lot of people, me included. i have a major depressive disorder and am now on fantastic meds that keep me on an even keel, but winter is still hard on me, especially after the joy of the holidays is gone and it's still so dark out. have you talked to your doctor about seasonal affective disorder? it's a type of depression that affects people in the winter when they're not getting enough sun. the doctor can prescribe a "happy light" for you. most insurance companies cover these lights. you sit in front of them for about half an hour and bingo! enough light gets in your eyes and you get better. it's great for kids, too. our little ones love it. however, it could just be the emotional content of the holidays that are bothering you. in that case, please know you are not alone. there is a group of us out here in blog-land rooting for you, me included. i so love my little snowy owl you made for me. i smile whenever i see her and i see her often, 'cause she's on my bead tray as my little muse. i will make her the perfect setting as soon as i see that picture in my head, and show it to you. i say go for it. quit your day job. spend your time doing what you love. life is so so so short, and at the end, people often say that what they regret the most is not doing enough of what they love. you'd be with your kids more (bonus!) and they will be inspired by your courage and they will be able to tell that you're doing what you love. you'll be a happier person, and maybe the little things that bother you now won't bother you as much... wishing you light, love, and peace.

Starstruckbooks said...

Don't think for one second that you are in the same place that you were 3.5yrs ago! Look at all you have achieved, all the beauty that you have brought into the world and sent out all over it. Maybe even more importantly, look at all the people you have inspired to create and believe in the power of making beautiful things (a lovely life included). Your blog was one of the things that motivated me to get myself started on my dream of spending my days binding beautiful books instead of chained to an office desk. Your blog showed me that it was possible to dream and achieve those dreams (and you have no idea how much I thank you for that). You are a full time mum, have a 'real job' AND still managed to have gallery shows, get published, inspire us all whilst whipping up all manner of fabulous creations. It comes slowly, but it does come. I was told at a creative business start-up seminar that any creative business takes at least 3 years to grow and they were talking full time! Keep heart, fill your walls with inspirational quotes, letters and pictures and keep smiling. You ARE getting there!

cw whitedogjewelry said...

That is a powerful post. I see how you are struggling, and know that pain, I have been down that road many times. I'm sorry you are there.
You are a great inspiration to me, I love your work, you are extremely talented.
My best advice to you is follow your heart and your head. Think things through and talk to someone you can trust to give you the straight answers to your questions. Then, think about it again, and make a choice you can live with. It may be hard at first, but you'll succeed with a happy heart and clear mind.
One thing I will add....you can't get back those years once your children are grown.
I wish you all the best in the future.
Happy Holidays.

SueBeads said...

Erin! Is it the time of year, or what? I was just thinking about 'regrets' the day you wrote this, but am just reading your post now. I have so many...but I keep reminding myself that if I didn't do what I have done, I wouldn't have these two wonderful children, and a fantastic partner and my fun job of making beads! It's hard for me to get the noises out of my head sometimes, but if I concentrate on these three things, it can work for a while!

CreatingCures said...

Oh Erin - so heartfelt and thought provoking. This is what I've so enjoyed about finding blogs... with each click YOU decide who you'd like to influence your day. We don't always have that option in everyday life. If I come across a post that rants, is disrespectful, negative, uninspiring - click - and it's gone. Shake off the negative energy - Click again and someone is making you reflect, learn, THINK... it's our choice everyday.

What I truly don't understand... why does every choice seemingly have a corresponding regret? Sure, they may be there but are they really worth the energy to acknowledge them? Are they all THAT important? I think not...

Years ago someone casually told me she strives to surround herself with positive people... it stuck and I think about that all the time - don't always practice it but it's there. You are positive and clearly inspire others - it's a gift. Very few people have the courage to take the leaps of faith you contemplate... for what it's worth, having time to volunteer at school - SO worth it! Not an easy choice, I don't envy your position, but you'll figure it out ~~T


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