Saturday night.
A chilled bottle of wine.
Nowhere to go.
No clock to follow.

It’s hot.

After 2 glasses of wine, I ask my husband: What would you have done differently? He would’ve applied to Harvard or some other Ivy League school. He doesn’t know what he would’ve done career wise, just that he would’ve given a little more thought to what he might want to do instead of taking the easiest way out, applying to colleges that didn’t require an essay, going to the first one that accepted him. He might’ve gone to law school, he says, and when I remind him that he started law school after we were married and tell him that he could still do that, he says No, not now. Though he doesn’t think he has the stomach for medicine, he thinks he would like to have been a country doctor . . . and I can see that. I can also see him being a teacher – I’ve never known a man more patient – or a vet. He once thought about being a vet, he tells me.

Me? What would I do differently? Not so much, I tell him. I would still leave psychology for education. I would still be a career (sometimes called stay-at-home) mother. I would’ve home schooled our children. It was unheard of them, and I did talk with him about it at the time, but the fight would’ve been too great. At least it seemed so then.

I would’ve married the same man – there’s no doubt about that – and I’m not just saying it because he reads my blog. Marrying him is one of the few things I got right. And my children. Oh hands down I would’ve had the same children: Alison and Kipp. Not so much as a shadow of a doubt there either. Sometimes I think I must be gaining weight not cause I eat too much and move too little but to make room for the mother’s love that expands my heart to triplequadruple the recommended heart size for a woman my age.

But what would I have done differently?

I would’ve pursued yoga and meditation when I first encountered it. Just think how tall and slim and flexible and mellow I’d be now.

Though I can’t tell you the specifics of what it would be, I would’ve found a career that would’ve made my husband’s family welcome me proudly to their table.

I would do something – just about anything – to see my children point to me and say “That is my mother” – not under their breath or from a sense of obligation to tell the truth or with a distinct tone of embarrassment but with pure unadulterated pride.

I might’ve gone into medicine, something I wanted to do as early as fifth grade, but somewhere along the way I got the idea (yes, sarcasm) that I could only be a nurse, and though I now value nurses and credit them with the real healing that occurs, I didn’t want to be a nurse. Ego, you say? So be it.

Sometimes I think I would like to have followed the trail of law enforcement that is in my DNA. Wear a uniform, drive real fast, carry a gun, flash a badge. I’ve gotta tell you: that still appeals to me, sometimes more than others.

I would never have asked or allowed that preacher to marry us, that’s something I would’ve done differently, and I would’ve verbally slugged that Marine chaplain who asked probing, inappropriate questions for his own entertainment. I would punch that mental health professional in the mouth to shut her up and keep her from doing more harm.

I would never have made our children go to church. Not that church, anyway.

Wanna know what I’d like to do now? I ask my husband. I want to speak up more and stay quiet less. I want to speak without qualifiers that erase what I want to say before I say it simply because I’d rather shoot myself down than have somebody else shoot me down.

I want to lead the parade of independent thinkers. I want to do everything I can think of to convince people that they can and should think for themselves. “They think you’re stupid,” I’d say at every opportunity, “so think for yourself and prove them wrong.” What a better place this world would be if people were encouraged and felt safe thinking their own thoughts. Can you imagine? (And for the record, I believe that thinking starts with feeling, starts in the heart.)

I want to write my books and plays and even music that I’ve been carrying around inside for I don’t know how long.

I’d love to hang a shingle out that says “The Holder, The Listener, The Laugher” or “Hugs, Ears, and Chortles” or something like that. Hang it out online and on the door of the studio I’ll eventually have – either, both. I would never try to tell somebody what they need to do – I know, even if they don’t, that they know. Down deep in their bones, they know the answers they seek, they know the path they long for. I’d just listen to them and hold the space till they tripped over their own answers, over their own way. Humor and laughter, those are my go-tos. I’d love to use humor and creativity to help people find their own answers, satisfy their own longings, understand (or maybe just “own”) their special and unique way of being.

And last but not least . . . I’ve been an end of life doula many times, and I’d love to do that more. I’m good at that, and I love doing it because it’s one of the few times when I totally, unequivocally trust my bones. I’d love to maybe be a chaplain – a non-denominational chaplain in say the forestry service or local police and fire department where I’d sit with families in crisis, fetching them hot chocolate, holding their hands, handing them hand-embroidered handkerchiefs as I listen to them share story after story after story. A purveyor of comfort. That’s what I want to be. That’s what I want to do.