good life – by ali edwards

AE_BH_GoodLifeSeries

Part of cultivating a good life is knowing we can make it through hard things.

Two years ago my life changed in a million big and little ways when I went through the process of an unwanted divorce.

There is nothing easy about divorce, but in our case, through intention, hard work, mutual respect and a shared love of our children, we’ve been able to move forward in a best-case scenario that I’m thankful for every single day.

I don’t want to sugar coat this experience or give you the impression that it’s no big deal or easy or everything is wonderful all the time. It isn’t. It’s gloriously imperfect. There are scars. There are emotional challenges. There are missteps and backwards slides.

But every single day we choose love.

One of the hardest things for me, especially in the beginning of this life change, was not having my children with me all of the time (not that they were with me every single moment before, but there is no way to discount the acute pain that came from the times when they weren’t with me because we were getting a divorce). This has gotten easier over the years as I’ve come to appreciate the time I have to myself, especially for cultivating my own interests and relationships. But in the moment it felt like my heart was being ripped out of my body.

I’ve been thinking about writing something to my kids about what I do during the times they are with their dad. Sometimes they ask me when I see them again, but most of the time we just give a whole lot of hugs and move on with whatever is next (often popcorn and an evening movie all cuddled up together on the couch – a re-entry tradition I started when we first began sharing our kids between our separate houses).

Someday down the road they might be curious about what I do when they are away.

Many of the scrapbook pages I have created include letters to my kids as the main journaling component. It’s an easy way for me to organize my thoughts and share with them something from my heart. I think that writing a letter is a great way to share this with my children and I’ll be taking this text and turning it into a layout soon.

I want my kids to know that we, all of us together and each of us individually, can make it through hard things. We do that by supporting and loving each other even when it’s hard, even when we’d rather go hide under the covers.

We can choose to make the best of what’s in front of us right now, even when it’s hard.

 

Dear Simon & Anna,

Someday down the road you might wonder what I do on those days and weekends when you are with Dad.

I think it’s important for you to know that I miss you when we are apart. I think it’s important for you to know that I know you are safe and being cared for in a very loving environment which I am so very thankful for. It is important for you to know that you are so very loved, whether we are together or apart. It’s also important for you to know that what I try to do during those days we were apart is live the length and width of my life.

Sometimes I work ahead on my “work stuff” so I can be more available and present and less distracted with my to-do list when we are together.

Sometimes I play. That might mean going to the movies, a concert or other travel to near or far away places.

Sometimes I travel for work, often with Katie along for the ride.

Sometimes I do nothing and simply rest in the cocoon of my bed and blankets.

Sometimes I mess around in the yard or clean up your rooms or re-organize things around the house.

I often do laundry.

Sometimes I go to more than one movie in a row.

Sometimes I exercise for longer than I usually can when you’re both here. Maybe at the gym. Maybe on my bike. Maybe at the pool.

Sometimes I go out for dinner and drinks with friends and celebrate that we all made it through another week in our crazy lives.

Sometimes I sleep in late, read the paper at the dining room table, and never change out of my jammies all day.

Sometimes I feel sad and sometimes I’m so happy I feel like I can fly.

Sometimes I try to learn something new. I think I need to do more of that.

I often dream.

I often think of you guys and what you might be doing (I usually know) and hope you were enjoying time with Dad and his family.

In case you ever worry about me, I want you to know that I am okay.

And man do I love it with all my heart every time you return home.

Love, Mom

 

Note from Becky

Aaaaand the tears are there. Puddled in my eyes. Oh that Ali. How I adore her so much. I have for such a long time. I know many of you do, too. Ali and I met back in the “Days of CK.” We were both involved with Creating Keepsakes magazine in one way or another and we both taught at those beloved CKU events, which is when we were able to have an occasional real-life conversation. We have a common goal in helping people in their memory-keeping, life-documenting quest.

I think it’s safe to say we “get” each other. There’s no question that we connect. Ali is full of so much good. I am grateful for how she inspires me and so, so, so many others in cultivating a good life. And recording it. And I will be forever grateful to her for being among those “early adopters” of my Project Life® system. She embraced it – and still embraces it – and does amazing, amazing storytelling with our products + her photographs + her written words.

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44 Responses to “good life – by ali edwards”

  1. Mariangeles

    Love it! She’s so strong :)

    Reply
    • angelia

      She is amazing, there is no doubt about that!


  2. Karen

    Wow….such a great letter…simple and deep. Love this post from two of my favorite CK alum.. Both of you inspire me daily with your courage to live fully in your words, acts and pictures. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Monica

    Ali sounds amazing and truly teaching her children through the changes that can happen through divorce. So many other parents need to read this. Cyber hugs to you Ali. Becky has been blessed with an amazing dear friend!

    Reply
  4. Pam

    Ali – thank you for sharing … you are amazing!!

    Reply
  5. Gemma

    I am writing this through tears. Finding myself in a situation where I am suddenly alone and apart from my family (albeit not long term), this is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you for sharing Ali.

    Reply
  6. Nita K.

    Amazing post from an amazing, inspirational woman. Thank you both for sharing this story.

    Reply
  7. Melissa

    I’ve followed Ali since the CK days and her wisdom and way with words never ceases to amaze me…

    Reply
  8. Karen

    Wow! Ali, that has brought a tear to my eye. I also went through an unwanted divorce 14 years ago and my children live 6,000 miles away. I love your letter and you have inspired me to write my own as today I am missing my son’s 21st birthday. Now I feel able to write my thoughts. Thank you and sending you good wishes for the future xx

    Reply
  9. Pam

    I think this is fabulous. I really do. And bravo to you, Ali, bravo to you. For all of this. I also write letters and put them in my PL album. I’m a newbie so not a lot of letters yet but they are part of the process for me. I DO think it’s vital to tell our children who we are, in many ways, not just the “happy pictures” but in words and in nuance so they will, in the future, have a bigger sense of who were. I’m doing that now as I begin to go back and use PL for an album of shots of me in my own childhood and of my husband in his childhood. I love Project Life. So much. And you wonderful women who keep it real and keep it moving on. Thank you.
    Pam Donoghue, Seabright

    Reply
  10. dawn

    Thank you Becky for hosting Ali here, she is such a huge positive inspiration in my life. She shares so much of her real life and so honest with us, she takes us in and makes us feel welcome and like we are her friends. It amazes me the way you can feel so much for someone you’ve never met, Ali and you do that so well. Because of her I tell more stories and see more little things in my life. Thanks so much to both of you for all you share and bring to others in this world!!

    Reply
  11. Becky M

    Thanks Becky.
    You and Ali are an inspiration to us all!

    Reply
  12. Mary

    Thank you for sharing Ali. As so many of the other ladies have written……..you are amazing!

    Mary from NH

    Reply
  13. Kelly Haskey

    Ali- I can so relate to this because I too and currently going thru a divorce. Although I choose to leave my marriage because I wasn’t happy, it doesn’t make it any easier. My 12 year old son choose to stay with Dad because he didn’t want to change schools and I understand that. So I altar my new life around him. Life throws us a curve ball and we just have to put our big girl pants on and deal with it. I also decided to write letters to my son. Let him know that even though I cant be there everyday with him doesn’t mean I don’t love him even more. Few things I struggle with is that like many others I am behind on my scrapbooks so I have years to document now and its going to be hard journal about it and scrapbook it since we aren’t a family anymore. But I will do it for my son. Hoping that PL can help me get caught up on those books for him. And to get our current life done. Not to sound weird but its nice to see that someone else has the same issues as me. So many bloggers I follow have the perfect family life. And divorce always makes things different but it doesn’t have to make it all wrong. Like you my sons dad and I are on good terms. Whenever child are involved its just better for everyone.
    I am so glad I read your blog today. Sundays are also hard for me. Taking my son back to his dad. Thank you for sharing your experience. I have been a fan of yours for many years. Love you style and love your products. And Becky…love you too. Been a fan of yours too for over 10 years. You both are truly talent women. Sad that I don’t have a scrapbook store in KC anymore. I use to work at Archivers and was very sad to see them close. Not a fan of buying stuff online. Like to touch and feel it.
    Happy Sunday. Sorry this is so long but it just hit home today:)

    K

    Reply
  14. Sandi Pressley

    Ali has shown us that when we cultivate a good life it may not be “perfect” as some people define “perfect” but it can still be wonderful.

    Reply
  15. Adrienne

    As an adult child of divorce, it has plagued my sister and I over the years – not really ‘getting over it’. I can’t begin to understand what it was like in the early 80′s, and when I would ask questions, parents, grandparents and extended family said, “one day, when you are older, you will understand”. All we knew was the changes, the tears, and there was hardly any laughter then. Grades fell, visitation was laborious, no one made any effort to explain the elephant in the room.
    I think what you are doing is astounding. I literally have placed it on my calendar to write my son 3 days in a month, not because I have something to say but because I want him to appreciate what we are doing as he grows. He is asking a lot of questions now, and I am not sure if I will include this in the correspondence. At 10 years old, he acknowledges he has 3 sets of grandparents as opposed to just 2 sets. (He is blessed and a little spoiled) And as it happened, he asked this week why Pappa and Grams divorced. Not wanting to keep much from my son, I chose my words carefully. He was my age when they split. They did not get along and they were happier apart. Being open, and intentionally having the tough discussions are what builds communication regardless of the age. Not sure if I am wrong, but I am trying anyway.

    Reply
  16. Lisa

    You’re a great mom Ali!!!!!!

    Reply
  17. ana roat

    Truly witten from the heart!

    Reply
  18. Debi Northcutt

    Oh Ali, you so inspire me! I can relate to your post in so many ways. Thank you!

    Reply
  19. Brooke

    So, so many life lessons from you, everyday Ali. Thank you!!

    Reply
  20. Jennie

    Beautifully written, Ali!

    Reply
  21. Dette Ramos

    Ali,

    Thank you so much for sharing this very intimate message for your kids. It made me appreciate my family and children even more. I am inspired by your strength and courage.

    Dette

    Reply
  22. Autumn

    Love. Thanks for sharing this Ali. You are a beautiful person and I love your written words.

    Reply
  23. Adele

    Wow, thank you Ali for sharing your letter to Simon and Anna. I love that you build layouts around these connective insights into your heart for your family and that you have positive words about their absence. You are a wonderfully strong woman and a tender hearted Mum, an inspiration. You’re tops! And Becky, thanks for sharing Ali with us xox

    Reply
  24. Donna

    I love that Ali is able to share her heart. I enjoy her One Little Word class. It has been a blessing to me over the last several years. She has a beautiful gift.
    AND I have been doing Project Life for the past few years, too. My children love to look back at what we have done. It is something that we all enjoy. Thank you for Project Life.

    Reply
  25. Penny Sue

    I am just starting my project life journey & very thankful to Ali as well. Our family has been hit with sorrows the last few years and I appreciate her willingness to share. Part of my projects will share some of the pain and the glorious re-birth that comes when we begin to flourish again, because that is life. I don’t want my kids to forget what we have been brought through, so they are strengthened for the future. Keep the great ideas coming…you are both appreciated very much!

    Reply
  26. Alida

    This is so wonderfully written. I’ve been following Ali’s blog daily for years, and she always inspires. Just realised that I love how she in so many ways (scrapbooking, words, life) are able to cut out the clutter and focus on what’s important in the most beautiful way.

    Reply
  27. Teresa

    What an incredibly powerful post Ali .. it brought tears to my eyes.

    Reply
  28. Ingvild

    Ali – you are truly an awesome person and mother. You truly know how to embrace life.

    Reply
  29. Jill

    Good letter to kids. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  30. Laurie

    I so needed to read this. I am a single mom (by choice via adoption) of a daughter. She is in 9th grade and is spending this spring break week in Spain on a school trip-without me. When she entered high school this year, it hit me that in a few years she would be off to college and life would change. I, of course, want this for her. Independence is what we want for our kids, right? But truthfully, I am dreading that time. We are only a few days into spring break and her absence is SO hard. Ali gives me post that I can learn to enjoy my soon-to-come life. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  31. Nena

    There are some people whose “being” is simply a gift. Ali is one of those people. Also, thank you, Becky, for having the insight, wisdom, and generosity to share yourself and your like-minded friends with us.

    Reply
  32. Kim

    I just love reading anything from Ali–she is the real deal! You want to talk about cultivating a real life and recording it then you should follow her blog. If you get frustrated from some of the phoney blogs full of tales of their perfect life, you should follow Ali. I appreciate her honesty and amazing skills.

    Reply
  33. Carrie

    Such a wonderful post! I’ve been following Ali’s journey via her blog and it makes me so happy to see her navigate this new life. As an adult now, I can look back on my childhood after my parents divorce and understand so much better. The way that Ali and her Ex-Husband have learned to navigate the waters for the best interest of their children is truely remarkable. I so wish I had had the same kind of experience. It makes a huge difference! And when Simon and Anna look back 20 years from now, they will know that they have amazing parents. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
  34. Lynn L.

    Great letter and thoughts! Thanks for sharing! :)

    Reply
  35. Rufina Soelistyo

    She is so inspiring!

    Reply
  36. Lisa Reed

    I just happened upon this blog post while looking for some paper. I was shocked and saddened. I have nearly everything Ali Edwards has ever published, along with Becky Higgins’ materials, and as I am using the stamps inspired by Ali I sometimes think of her perfect life compared to mine. I am so sorry, Ali Edwards. You are an awesome mother and person. You are. Keep on keeping on with those wonderful, beautiful children. One day at a time. Keep cultivating the good life. And the thing about going through the Valley of Shadows? Grab who you can on your way through and Keep. Moving. God bless you and your babies. He will take you through this and protect them from the flames.

    Reply
  37. Donna

    so honest and so real in your descriptions of how to begin to move again after a gaping loss. i was a single mom when widowed eleven years ago– often was told it was the same feeling as divorce–I do see the similarities in your prose. my three children just beginning to wonder, how how how did she survive it. your letter my help me with the answers. healing is a path that never ends. it’s nice to greet a fellow traveler. thank you.

    Reply
  38. Lisa W.

    OH that ALi…your not kidding. She has inspired me beyond words! Her truth, her style, she just says what you seem to be feeling. And to know someone else “feels” like they want to just hide under the covers one day AND to take on the world another. And daydream…I daydream all the time that I want to be Katie and work right along side her everyday. Becky, thanks for having this awesome post…loved it, cherish it !!!

    Reply
  39. Desiree

    I am going through a divorce now and it is so difficult to see into the future and believe that things will be better. I appreciate reading your story, because like you, I feel that acute pain of having my son and daughter away from me when they spend a weekend with their dad. But like you, I have come to enjoy some of those quiet moments and often spend time wondering what they are doing. I know things will get better one day. Thank you for sharing, Ali. I could see my future in your story.

    Reply
  40. Tracey Clark

    xo to you Ali Edwards.

    Reply
  41. Gina from FL

    What a great idea!. Having gone through a divorce myself 3 years ago I never thought of writing a letter to my 9-year-old daughter who always worries about leaving me “alone” when she goes with her dad. Thank you for this wonderful idea!

    Reply
  42. Kristen

    Amazing….and inspiring. Thank you Ali and Becky!

    Reply