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How do you handle regrets?

“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention….” I am one of the lucky ones with few regrets. Mistakes, many? But regrets? Few.

In 1974 we were living our best life in Key West. I had attended Louisiana Tech for a year, Florida Keys Community College for a year, and was set to go to Florida State University with my BFF. What is it they say? Man plans, God laughs? Daddy’s detailer called, asking how things were going. Daddy said he loved his job, that he was happy, the wife was happy, things have never been better. Three weeks later Daddy had orders for Germany. I think this fell under “things that suck for $1000, Alex”. November rolled around and off we went to Gielbelstadt, Germany. This is a regret – had I gone to Florida State, not only would I probably have finished school, my BFF would have, too. She dropped out after a year – but not a regret, because….

In September 1975 I left Germany to go back to school at Louisiana Tech. At that time Army brats could still be considered military dependents, keeping their government issued ID cards and benefits until they were 23 if they were still in school. This was a no-brainer for me; while I had attended the University of Maryland global campus in Germany, I couldn’t go any further towards a degree so off to Ruston I went.

Ruston, Louisiana, is a very long way from Giebelstadt, Germany: 5,056 air miles, to be exact. I was desperately homesick, not for Germany but for my family. I reached the breaking point just six weeks before graduation, dropped out of school and went “home.” Not finishing that last quarter was a regret – but not a regret because…

When I went back to Giebelstadt, I met the man I would marry. Not a match made in Heaven. When I told my dad I was getting married, he asked “who do you think you’re marrying?” When I told him, he said, “I guess you’re not” and I replied “I guess I am, buddy! Watch this!.” Obviously, I was too immature to make such a life changing decision! I remember vividly as we were taking our vows thinking “I love him, but I don’t even like this guy.” Still not a regret, because….

Had I not married him, I would not have had these two wonderful children and two amazing granddaughters.

As you know (or have probably guessed) I am happily divorced. In fact, I just celebrated my 35th divorce anniversary September 23rd after nine years, six months and eleven days or unholy matrimony. I do not regret marrying, just that I stayed married for so long. We were married in 1978; in 1984 I wanted a divorce but not only let him talk me into staying married, agreed to leave a really good job and move to El Paso. Still not a regret, because….

When I went back to the DFW area, the good job I left had been filled and I was hired to manage a small travel agency. Not only was I very successful in tripling the revenue within the first year, I made friendships that have lasted even to this day. Divorcing when my kids were young – they were only 7 and 4 – meant getting them out of a volatile household. Being a single mom was hard emotionally, financially, but moving back to Arlington meant I had the much-needed support of my family. We likened ourselves to the Bravermans in Parenthood, always there through thick and thin. Had I not moved back, I wouldn’t have been able to spend the last few years with my dad before he died or been there when my mom found out she had cancer and had those last days with her before her death in 2002. Her death hit me hard; I found myself in a midlife crisis, quit my job in travel (a career that started in 1977) and moved to Galveston without any financial stability or job prospects. Still not a regret, because….

I love Galveston. It’s not Key West, but it’s home. Life here has not always been easy. I’ve weathered hurricanes. I’ve had immeasurable loss with the death of my sister. Money has been tight and at some times almost non-existent. Jobs have come and gone, none of them satisfying, none of them travel. There are days I regret stepping away from travel, but I’ve come full circle and am back with the agency I left in 2002.

As for the other regret? Dropping out of Tech? In 2013 I was able to attend classes online and by taking a full load (and working) for three quarters was able to graduate.

No regrets.

It was a long time coming – 37 years – but I did it.

And, like everything else,

I did it my way.

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