good life – by ali edwards
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.
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.