I decided to rent the cabin.
Once there, my newfound freedom from my previous responsibilities felt strange and somewhat confusing. No more alarm clock, no more job to show up to, very little housework just one linoleum floor that needed occasional sweeping.
Yes there were challenges, like the time I waited three days for the sun to thaw the hose that connected the cabin taps to the water main on the road.
But each morning as I rounded the corner from the bedroom to the living room, the view from the floor to ceiling windows took my breath away.
And there was lots of animal life. Seagulls and crows visited on the deck, sea otter and seals swam in the bay, deer wandered down to drink at the nearby stream. I felt like a kid in a playhouse.
There was time for romance, the demise of one of which was to have a dramatic effect on my life.
A friend and I were discussing what we considered to be appropriate behavior. I was defending my right to excuse myself from dinners being attended by people whose conversations I did not enjoy.
My friend asked if I thought that it was OK for people to choose not to listen to each other talk about certain issues.
I said “Yes I do. I think that we each have a responsibility to take care of ourselves. And that one of the ways we do this is by choosing what we allow ourselves to be exposed to.”
My friend then said “OK, I don’t want to listen to you talk about that man you used to be involved with.”
That conversation changed my life.
The friend who made this announcement was the person with whom I spoke the most frequently at that time. And now she was refusing to listen to me talk about the breakup of my romantic relationship.
When I no longer had the luxury of relating my tale of woe about what this man had done or not done, I was forced to find other things to talk about which meant other things to think about.
I began thinking of things that I had been too busy and perhaps too fearful to think about before.
I thought about how I, and others, had always considered me to be optimistic, yet now that I was becoming more conscious of my thoughts, I saw how my mind frequently went first to the possibility of the “worst case scenario”.
I think that previously I had appeared optimistic to myself and to others, because I had just skipped over these worse case scenario thoughts, ignoring that I was even having them.
During my newfound “thinking time” my daughter graduated from university and I thought of the parents of a friend of my daughter, who many times during my years as a single parent, had taken my daughter to their summer place for much of her school summer holidays. Only now was I realizing what a major factor that had been in both my life and my daughter’s life. I sat down and wrote a Thank You letter to these friends.
That one Thank You letter led me to remember many other people who had gone out of their way to help my children and I. It also led me to the realization that for many years I had been so focused on the people who had not helped me, that I had not fully appreciated the many people who had helped me.
Then the questions started.
Had my life in fact been rather easy and I had been an ungrateful complainer? Would I come to realize that I had been responsible for missing joy and happiness that I could have had?
In an attempt to answer these questions, I read possibly every Self Help and Personal Growth book that had ever been written.