Growing up,  I was a child who always wanted to know what was going to happen next. I was intrigued by the occult, playing the ouija board with friends, reading my horoscope often and doing séances, or what we deemed as séances, trying to get an answer to what the future would hold.  I frequently played the game MASH with my friends to speculate where I’d end up in life. Mansion, Apartment, Shack or House? What will it be? Who would be my prince charming? Clearly, one of the cute boys in the 5th grade. What will I drive? Lamborghini or Porsche or maybe a Jeep? And how many kids? So many unknowns answered. And of course when your friend told you to stop drawing lines, it was all intuition based, so it MUST be right.   Like all my friends, I always wanted the big house, the big yard, the nice car, the good looking guy, and some kids to share my fortune with, and probably a white picket fence while I was at it.  That was the American dream after all, right?

My first post college apartment was not quite what I envisioned when planning my future as a child.  3,000 miles away from home, cardboard box nightstands, a used coffee table that smelled like the gasoline in someone’s garage every time we moved it and a stiff futon we thought would make a decent bed. Yet, we had a tiny little deck that hosted the perfect view of the spectacular Cascade Mountains we lived next to. No furnishing required. My boyfriend (now husband) was in the military, I worked two part time jobs, we had no friends to speak of and spent all of our free time together, mostly playing Yahtzee for household chores, but still together.  I remember making my bed once, with a beautiful discount comforter cover I had saved up for, thinking, this is it, this is the life I was waiting for.  Life was hard with many stressful moments, but it was good.  Apartment, good looking Guy, Nissan NX 1600 with t-tops, no Kids.

My first house was also not at all what I envisioned it would be when I was a young adult planning my future.  I’m not sure where I thought all my financial wealth was going to come from, but it wasn’t from the job I chose.  A simple cape style home, with a one car garage on an acre lot in a quaint neighborhood.  When we moved in, we knew we couldn’t stay forever because we only had two usable bedrooms and we had planned to have more than one child.  Yet, I remember how excited I was once we’d made the house our own and commenting to a friend how I was so perfectly content with my new home, my beautiful baby and husband. I had finally had the life I wanted.  House, good looking Husband, Nissan Pathfinder, 1 Kid.

It’s been 8 and a half years we’ve lived in our starter house.  Life’s been filled with continuous change since we’ve been here.  Every room in the house has had a makeover, we had another child to complete our family, survived a major job loss and career change for my husband, and have made countless memories and traditions with our kids.  We’ve had some really tough moments and some really amazing moments. Both of which we’ve learned and grown from and continue to grow from.  And we still have each other.  House, excellent Father for my children, Honda Pilot, 2 Kids.

I wish I could say the story ends there.  I appreciate everything I have, hold on to the moments of contentment and enjoy life to its fullest. But, that’s not true.  I am human.  I want more, strive to have more and am constantly setting goals on how to get more.  I am not comfortable being stagnant. I like to move forward and moving forward means asking the question, what’s next?

In fact, when my children give me the long laundry list of what they want, I always tell them “Its good to want. If you had everything you wanted, there’d be nothing to look forward to.”  But, is life supposed to be filled with only fleeting moments of satisfaction? Yes and no. Life is supposed to be filled with moments, only we get to decide if those moments are filled with contentment or filled with longing for more.

Just because we don’t have a six figure income doesn’t mean we can’t have a life of wealth.  Its so easy to focus on what we don’t have and forget to take inventory on what we do.  I don’t have the mansion I dreamed of or the car I wanted, but I have a great family, great health, great friends, a great job and time to play.  There are days I don’t remember I am thankful for these things, many actually, and those are the days I am the most unsatisfied. The more I want, the less content I become.  It’s a continuous practice to find the balance between being thankful for what I have and setting goals for what’s next, but well worth the prize of appreciation and fulfillment.

I admit, I still read my horoscope- I am a true goal oriented Capricorn- and I still am wondering what the future holds.  But with a little practice and a whole lot of gratitude, I will acknowledge that I have mastered the game of MASH and have exactly what I was looking for.

Home, Partner, Freedom, Bliss.