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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You Can Always Go Home

Hello from Winnipeg my dear girlfriends. Birthplace of Neil Young, Cherry Pepsi and yours truly. As you read this I am in Beasejour giving a talk on healthy living. Rest assured I decked out in my finest and yes, my shoes really do make me look smarter.

It is the day before this talk however as I write this blog from the confines of a cute little coffee shop in the exchange district. Ah it takes me back dear girlfriends to days gone by when I took musical theatre lessons just down the street back “in the day”. It began when I was 7 or 8 years old at Prairie Theatre School and continued until I was somewhere in my teens. When I was 12 I promptly announced to my family that I wanted to be a Broadway theatre legend.

My parents, ever the supporters promptly informed me that I would most definitely be a doctor but could absolutely act on Broadway as a hobby, in my spare time.

I had many a musical theatre class over on Princess Street not three blocks from where I now sit. I remember hanging out in these very coffee shops between classes dreaming about my “big break”. My teacher’s name was Nancy and she thought my improv skills were something else (if I do say so myself).

There it began, my sisters…. The chance to be something you were not and to dream about a future somewhere else. I would argue, in fact that my imagination really took flight only a few blocks from this very coffee shop.

Now I’m back and the memories of days and dreams gone by puts a genuine smile on my face. Make no mistake my girlfriends, I do not have regrets. As the parental units had predicted, I did become a doctor. My Hobbies however are numerous, but none include being a Broadway legend. As for my spare time? It is often spent in search of Italian footwear that will of course complete me.

I could not help but wax nostalgic about days gone by and the hope that was so much apart of me so many years ago. Being back in Winnipeg always makes me feel just a bit nostalgic. I think anyone’s hometown can have that effect on them but somehow Winnipeggers will tell you that here the effect is ever more prevalent. This city somehow has its way of helping you become who you are. Anyone who denies it really has bad manners. (Hey, Burton Cumming, I am talking to you)

Think about it. How else do you have a sense of self if you never have a frame of reference? Who we are is where we come from. Where we spent our formative years; the coffee shops where our dreams were born.

Make no mistake; I have a great deal of content about where my life has lead. Sure, It would be nice to be a Broadway legend but I’ll be quite content watching Broadway from the orchestra seats for the rest of my life if it means that I get to still have the life I’m currently living.

Forgive me for waxing on emotional my girlfriends, but if you can’t share your insides with a cyber sister, than what good is the Internet? I can’t help but sit in this coffee shop and wonder how many of my girlfriends think about the choices life has made with us or for us and live without regrets?

Bonnie Ware is a palliative care nurse in Australia who collected information from her patients in the last 3 months of their lives. She recorded the most common regrets they had and formulated them into a book and then into a full-length inspirational book. According to Ms. Ware, the top five regrets of the dying are:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

I’m not sure an anecdotal book counts as evidence this week, my girlfriends but when you do a literature search in the medical literature the only real evidence that tends to come up involves a woman’s right to chose and given that I am full on PRO-CHOICE, I figure it would be a no brainer.

That being said, I could not help but think of Ms. Ware’s observations as I walk down these boulevards of broken dreams.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.
Sure, I went to medical school for my parents but everything I’ve done since then has pretty much been a self-serving endeavor. I think as with most thing- the dreams of others often become our own. Your spouse, your beloved, your kids, your friends- often many of their hopes and aspirations indeed do become woven into your own. Life is not an independent film. We live amongst others and I would argue often the lines do get blurred beyond what they may have been. Will I regret never being a Broadway legend? Not likely. I’m not sure that Broadway would have loved me the way my current life has.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
Do I wish I worked less? Hell no. I love work. I like being busy. Relaxing is torture for me. I tried it just this morning. I lay in bed in the hotel room for a solid 20 minutes before I grew bored and had to get up, go to the gym and go for a run.

3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
Do I wish I had the courage to express my feelings? I think we can safely say that I will go to my deathbed without worrying about that one. In fact I would argue that I often express far too many feelings… all at once. But hey- in life we take what we are given and make the best of it.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
As for friendships passed? I’m not sure that is worth a regret. People come in and out of your life for a variety of reasons. I have found its best to remember them in the moment and take the memories with you rather than dwell on the absences. If any of my long lost girlfriends are out there- do feel free to give me a call. I would love to hear from you.

5. I wish I had let myself be happier.
Finally I wonder if many, many years form now (hell all this healthy living has to lead to some longevity) will I wish I’d let myself be happier? That one remains to be seen. I think at this point happiness is the bliss you make not the bliss you take. If that is indeed the case, I should be going to the great beyond with a smile on my face.

Another week gone with reflections in tow and a trip down memory lane. I leave tomorrow with no regrets and a quick stop in Toronto before heading back to the coast, the boy and the life I have for the most part chosen. I’m as content with the parts that were in fact chosen for me as the bits that I picked out myself. Goodbye little cafĂ© and my Broadway dreams. It was a lovely place to visit but I no longer live here in so many respects. Remind me to treat myself to a great pair of strappy sandals to mark the moment.

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