It feels like we just got done with New Years, so it is unbelievable to me that we are now preparing to celebrate the Fourth of July; the 237th year of our independence as a nation. Along with my family, I will be celebrating at home with hot dogs and homemade coleslaw. I'll enjoy regional fireworks displays from the comfort of our backyard and feel terrible for our cats who will all be cowering in terror under the bed when the boom-noise begins. I will remember our military stationed around the world (including my cousin, Dr. Russell Gilbert, M.D., USN), along with those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. It will be a lovely and peaceful day.
...and it got me to thinking.
I thought about celebrating a different kind of independence...yours!
I know. You may be thinking,"What in the world is there to 'celebrate'? I didn't want to be 'independent'. I didn't ask to be 'independent' I don't want to have to worry about the things she/he used to worry about. What I want is my beloved here with me".
I completely understand that line of thought. It happens at holidays, it happens in the everyday lives that we all once enjoyed -- but it especially happens when something needs fixing. I will admit it right now... a sink, a toilet, certainly anything having to do with four wheels that requires a tire jack... if it's "tech-y or heavy", I don't want anything to do with it.
The fact remains that through no fault or doing of yours, you have been thrust into the world of On Your Own and as such, you have likely had to assume much of what might have once been considered "man-stuff" or "her job"... the things that we would just rather not handle, even if we did know how to do so. However, there was also a time in the not-too-distant past when many things that we now take for granted as common to both sexes were considered "for men only"- things like going to work every day, handling the household finances... even something as simple as having bank accounts and credit. It is no different for the guys either...despite how a few television commercials insist on portraying men (as stereotypically clueless when it comes to anything other than sports, auto repair or beer selection), men are taking part in (and in some cases taking over) what was once not-so-lovingly referred to as "women's work". There are more stay-at-home dads now than ever before and these days, you are quite likely to find many men preparing meals, braiding their daughters' hair and sharing in the day-to-day running of the household.
While I will happily admit to having called on a local handyman company to do the "impossible for Carole" jobs (i.e. mounting a ridiculously heavy mirrored wall hanging and of course, anything having to do with the word "electricity"), I have also taken a silly kind of pride in the things that I learned how to do on my own. Granted, that education was borne out of necessity, but it still feels good to know that I am capable of taking care of things that at one time I would have never attempted on my own.
Moreover, celebrating independence is not just limited to home repairs or do-it-yourselfing. Something as simple as going out for a meal on your own and actually enjoying yourself can be a huge accomplishment. Learning a new skill, taking a vacation, chasing a dream that you perhaps had to put on the back burner are all fantastic examples of celebrating the "you" that is beginning to emerge.
So as we observe Independence Day, take just a moment to reflect on your own independence. Be proud of the things that you have learned how to do and enjoy the confidence boost you have experienced as a result. Take pride in the fact that although you are in a place that you never asked or expected to be, you are still perfectly capable of taking care of you and your household; whether that "household" is just you, you and children or you and your pets. Not only that, you are also learning new things, embracing new experiences and moving forward into a life that you can love once again. You are finding a way, you are making a way... you are getting it done!
...and if you are ever in Southern California, I will be happy to show you the air filter that I installed in our air conditioning unit.
Wishing you a safe and peaceful July 4th holiday.
Carole's latest book, "Happily Even After..." has won the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com
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