Regrets: Have More Than Just a Few

Happy Sunday from northern California. As I was watching the frost on the grass in the back garden melting with the sun, I wrote a letter to some friends and wished another a happy birthday.

It’s things like that I’ve been missing as I market not one, but two books, and write another: Writing to friends, spending time with family, watching the sun reflect on the grass, cursing at politicians.

This week, for the first time this winter, there was that frost here. The weather is mild in California, and I love that. Thinking about the weather made me think about all the locations on the planet my life has taken me.

Before I met my husband, I lived in New York, where I’d been most of my life. First on the very end of Long Island, then further in, then back out to the north fork again, and after a disastrous 13-month marriage, to Brooklyn and then Astoria, where I made another ill-fated marriage, but one that lasted nearly 20 years.

I know — 20 years, right? It just wasn’t as easy to admit I’d make a mistake a second time. And I got some great adventures out of that alliance, a son I love, and I made the daring (and some would say, foolhardy) decision to move to Greece, where that marriage finally fell apart as it was meant to do. But it was there where I realized that, although I miss the people in New York, the buildings, the underground subway system, the singular attitude and sense of humor, not to mention the amazing pizza, I am a warm-weather person.

Among other wonderful things Greece taught me, it taught me that. No slice of pizza beats sitting on a balcony in your shirt sleeves ten months of the year. Well, it doesn’t for me, anyway. If it does for you, I admit that pizza is damn good.

It was very little to do with the break up of that second marriage that my life changed drastically for the better. More accurately, I changed drastically for the better. I know it was the move to Greece that precipitated that positive change. Even though my ex and I split about six months after I arrived there, I lived there for seven years after that — seven remarkable, life-defining years — meeting people I’d have never met, women from parts of the world I’ll probably never travel, and working at some marvelous things I will most likely never work at again. 

And yep — I dared to get married again. I joke about that now — “three times the charm,” “first two husbands were just for practice,” etc — but believe me, it wasn’t funny for years. Not at all. It was embarrassing, truth be told. But this one seems to be sticking rather well. I knew there was a good possibility it might when, after he proposed, I asked him, “Doesn’t it worry you that you’re betting on a two-time loser?”

He answered without blinking an eye. “Don’t be silly. First of all, you’re not a loser. Second of all, I trade stocks, play poker, and grow rice. That last thing alone proves I’m a serious gambler.”

Together he and I have taken many more gambles. We’ve moved six times in the past sixteen years, in three different states, and though I surely got sick of cardboard boxes, each move was purposeful and each in its own way brought us new adventures and fun. Here we are, at an age when many are enjoying their 10% senior discount at iHop, still gambling on our dreams, flinging our AARP cards behind us as we go..

What’s this confessions-of-the-soul post all about, you might rightly ask? I’ll sum it up: I was unhappy once because I was afraid. Afraid to lose people I loved, afraid to try something new, afraid of failing … again. And then, one day, almost too late, I stopped being afraid. I’m stopped being “embarrassed.” It hit me that, whether I was embarrassed, fearful, or otherwise, sooner or later, I was going to stop breathing. The reality is now is the only time we have, on this plane, in this incarnation, to BE. Despite what the evangelicals or scientists theorize, we don’t actually know what happens to us after this. This is it. And I got tired of waiting, for … what, I can’t remember.

I won’t say the risks I took and continue to take make things easier, but they certainly add more life to my life. And I learned that “living while afraid” is a pale imitation of living.

So, I’m writing this for you. The one who is heartbroken because the marriage didn’t work.The one who is frustrated being passed over for that promotion one more time. The one who wants to sell that creaky, old, money-pit of a house you’re told you mustn’t sell because it’s a good investment, and travel the world with the proceeds. The one who wishes someone else would take care of the ailing parents for a change. The one who has sacrificed way too much for their children. The one who, even worse than all of the above, wants to become a writer, a filmmaker, a musician, an artist, a photographer, a podcaster, a producer, or even crazier, a literary agent. (Shout out to those brave souls here.) Here’s what I think, for what my two cents are worth:

If you’re dreaming of making a change, taking a chance, TAKE IT. Like it or not, you will die, so don’t die disappointed. Don’t die wishing you’d tried, die exhausted from having tried so hard. Die having failed, if you must.

Die having LIVED.


  1. Something I’ve always wondered about, and I think one of my multiple marriage friends brought this up….does an 1-2 year marriage three decades ago (or more) even worth mentioning? One was presumably so young that it really just amounts to a LTR on Steroids.

    Though I suppose if you don’t mention it, it looks like you are trying to hide something.

    • Both good points. For some of us, though, first marriages are made to get the approval of our parents/church group/peer group. Lust has little to do with it. I think you can’t ‘not’ mention it, especially to potential spouse number 3! LOL

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