Thoughts to Ponder – May 5, 2015, Pain and joy

 “Emotional discomfort, when accepted, rises, crests,
and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes parts
of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined.
No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional
pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive,
and expansive. It’s different from the sting of decay;
the pain leaves you healthier than it found you.”
Martha Beck*

This quote came at the perfect time.

This afternoon I received my Alverno College alumnae magazine. As those publications do, it highlighted outstanding alumnae and their achievements. I’m extremely proud that I graduated from this top-ranked college in only five years at the age of 47 while working full-time. That schedule precluded participating in student events and making close friends, a part of the “normal” college experience. However, my BA degree allowed me to earn promotions that previously would have been out of my reach. Yet reading the magazine, I wondered if they are proud of me. A profound sadness fell over me as I thought they would not be.

A series of life choices led me to attend Alverno at that particular time in my life. I married shortly out of high school, basically to leave home and my hometown. We had some fun, some tough times and three wonderful children. Yet, over the years I determined that this was not what I wanted from life and left the marriage, taking the children with me.

Life as a single mother was hard – and rewarding. Other experiences led me down a path that was often enjoyable, but sometimes miserable. At one point after college, I was working three part-time jobs. All were interesting and great learning experiences, but not where I anticipated I’d be after college.

Then came the day when all my children and sons-in-law were out of the military and had settled lives. I decided to retire at 55 and move to Virginia so I could get to know my adult daughters, their husbands and children while they were still young. This was the best decision of my life. We became friends and I adore my four great-grandsons. If I had waited until 65 to retire, all these loving family members would be strangers. There are times when I think I’m more of a burden than a contributor, but that is my impression to correct.

Since I moved here I’ve had some exciting jobs and some depressing jobs. My jobs now are excellent for retired people, not for career building. At this point in my life I do not want to build a career, I want to experience peace, love and joy and meet interesting people along the way. I have met some dear friends and teachers. I wish we could be closer friends. Whose fault is that? Definitely mine, because I hesitate to reach out to them. Instead I sit at home and wish they would call me.

All this is a long way to say that I’ve experienced every word of Martha Beck’s quote. I know that all she said is true. As I look back on my various experiences I can see the highs, lows, pains and the lessons they presented. Every experience taught me something I needed to learn.

Today’s lesson was to accept all my experiences, even those that seemed to be terrible mistakes. I must accept myself where I am today. It is never too late to begin a new phase, a new adventure. I ask you to hold me to that knowledge and not let me waste my time fretting and moaning.

And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 5, 2015

*Daily Inspiration, May 5, 2015, from “The Willingness Factor: Learn to Avoid Avoidance” by Martha Beck, Inc.

Sharon D. Dillon,, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by Available in print and e-format at