Going through notes today, I spotted some little nuggets of wisdom from the generous presenters at the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.
At “Drag Races, Detours and Destinations: Finding the Power in Your Creative Journey,” Dr. Nancy Berk presented the question, “What do you wish you had known?”
“I wish I had known you can’t label things “good” or “bad. It’s all just life.” — Kathy Kinney
“I wish I had known that in a creative life, there will be times of drought.” — Katrina Kittle
“I wish I had known when things go sideways, it doesn’t mean they went the wrong way, just a different way.” — Leighann Lord
“I wish I had known it’s the day to day that matters so I could have savored it more.” — Katrina Kittle
“I wish I had know I should be more comfortable with change.” — Leighann Lord
Here are mine:
I wish I had known to savor the days of free play and extra recess, the days of playing outside ’til the sun set and mom called us for dinner, the secrets whispered between friends with a giggle and a pinky swear.
I wish I had known to be more understanding of the classmate who pulled my hair or the new kid who didn’t quite fit in or the teacher who was just having a rough day.
I wish I had known an “F” wasn’t the end of the world and neither was a broken heart, or that my hair, my clothes, my friends wouldn’t define me then or now.
I wish I had known to indulge in the sheer joy the sound of the ice cream truck gave me as it turned the corner, to treasure that first lick of the first Bomb Pop of the first day of summer.
I wish I had known to cherish a ride on my dad’s shoulders and the wind in my face as I pumped my legs on the swing — flying higher and higher — and the afternoons when the world awaited, but all I could muster was “I’m bored.”
I wish I had known that friendships don’t last forever, unrequited love makes you stronger and rumors are as fleeting as a 15-year-old girl’s fickle heart.
I wish I had known to be kinder to the boy who had a crush, the girl who was rude, the teacher who criticized me — that they each had a story only they knew that shaped them in ways I couldn’t understand.
I wish I had known to take time to travel the world, to explore faraway lands, that coming home is that much sweeter when you’ve found a bit of yourself on different soil.
I wish I had known it’s okay to change your mind even when there is only one path you’ve allowed yourself to travel, that a plan is just a plan and can be molded and kneaded or thrown away all together.
I wish I had known love often lingers nearby if we only take a moment to see others with fresh eyes.
I wish I had known that moments like first kisses are just that, that there are some things you can’t ever go back to, can’t ever relive, making that first something worth savoring.
I wish I had known to hold my babies a little longer before they outgrew my lap but never my heart.
I wish I had known how much love I was capable of even for those who seemed undeserving.
I wish I had known my parents’ protectiveness was something I would fully understand one day, that they were just as human as I am, doing the best with what they had.
I wish I had known there would be moments I would need the strength of the 8-year-old me and the fearless nature of the tree-climbing tomboy still within me, the determination of the stubborn little girl who refused to wear dresses, and the faith of the pajama-clad 10-year-old on her knees placing her worries in God’s hands.
I wish I had known that the patience it took to build a house of cards would come in handy, but that house of cards could crumble in a split second with one wrong choice.
I wish I had known none of these bits of knowledge were necessary then or now, regrets are inevitable, disappointment unavoidable and failure inescapable.
I wish I had known without them contentment would be impossible, personal satisfaction unattainable and success elusive.
I wish I had known each moment simply led to a choice, which led to another moment that would create an endless chain of moments connected by one purpose — the piecing together of the me I was meant to be.
— Leah Vidal
Leah Vidal is the author of Red Circle Days and writer at Little Miss Wordy. Her essays have been featured in The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, What the Flicka? and Today Parenting as well as Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, The Good Men Project and Mamapedia. Leah, a 2014 BlogHer Voice Of The Year, was published in The HerStories Project Anthology: My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. She and her family reside in Pennsylvania, where she recently completed her first children’s book and is at work on her first novel.