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Excerpts from CHOICES OF A GROWING WOMAN
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No matter how old we are, we have a family within us. The child we were. The teen. The middle-aged person. The old person we will become. It is important we accept this stretch of age. If there is to be harmony between generations in the world we live in, it must begin in the world that lives in us.


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In the introduction to Choices, forty questions are featured that the reader is invited to answer alone or in the company of friends. Here are six of the questions:

1) If someone dropped a million dollars in your lap today, would you be in the same job (career, profession) tomorrow?
2) What five qualities do the happiest people you've known in your life have in common? (How many of these qualities do you have?)
3) What is the finest thing someone could say about you?
4) In what ways would you change the ways you spent your time if you valued each hour at $1,000?
5) What quality do you value in yourself that you wish more people would appreciate?
6) If you were stranded on a desert island for a weekend (a month? a lifetime?) what five people would you choose to take with you and why?

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I used to equate loudness with passion and caring. Of trying to force someone to see things my way as a measure of my genuine concern. I'm more honest lately. When I assault someone with words, I know that I'm not willing to wait and see what will happen without my pushing. I'm being lazy and afraid. I don't want to face the possibility I might have to rearrange my life if the person I'm talking to doesn't come through and give me an answer I can live with.
 
We can't make someone listen. We can't make someone respond in exactly the way we'd like. What we can do is express ourselves as clearly as possible. Being clear means being able to tell another person exactly what our position is in a way that will not likely devastate either the other person, or ourselves. This kind of clarity is accompanied by awareness, by kindness, as well as by the willingness to stand by what we believe in. Unfortunately, we frequently leave the awareness and kindness behind. That's where the trouble comes in.

 

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If a person doesn't react in a way we either like or accept, or if a person doesn't "like us anymore" because of what we're saying, we've got problems unless we can live with that. Once we make our position clear with as much integrity as we can muster, it is the other person's turn to take responsibility, to be clear and aware and kind and all the rest. It is a time when all the immature reasoning "She made me act this way" or "How can I tell her the truth when she's being like that?" doesn't hold.
When he or she chooses, for whatever reason, to only pretend to feel all right with what's been said, or to twist either words or motivations, that's too bad, but it's okay. Unlike having a satisfying conversation where there must be at least two people eager for the experience, being clear takes only one.

 

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Learning to accept uncertainty has been healthy for me. If what's out there isn't my security, then what's inside must be. Most people don't believe that. They point to money. They point to their possessions. They point to each other. But security is an illusion. Nothing is secure if it can be taken away.
Granted, some things are more secure than others. It's not as likely that my roof will cave in while I'm sleeping as it is that I might lose money at the blackjack table. But anyone who listens to the news or reads the paper knows that possessions and people can be taken from us at any time.
Even if what we have isn't taken from us, often it is altered in such a way that it no longer makes us feel secure at all. When the payments can't be made on the home we love, then that home is no longer our security. If the person we love is at home but loving someone else, our emotional relationship is no longer something we can count on.
Nothing is sure. The pieces never fit—and what a relief!

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When I didn't take advice, I was often accused of being irresponsible or silly. I still have to remind myself that around every corner is a person with an opinion of what I should do and be. And there are plenty of corners. I will always be disappointing someone. I prefer not to disappoint myself.
Listening to our own answers doesn't mean we must believe others' opinions have no value. It's that they have most value when we integrate them with our own ideas and use them in ways that feel right. When we rely exclusively on books or prescriptive plans for living, we are automatically setting limits on ourselves; we can only go so far as someone else's vision takes us. By generating our own choices—our own answers—possibilities are open ended. True, there are no guarantees, no protective limits. But neither are there doors closing us off to where it would be best for us to go.

Choices of a Growing Woman by maggie davis
Original Copyright © 1981 by Acropolis Books, Ltd.
Copyright © 1993 (Fourth Printing) by maggie davis. All Rights Reserved.

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maggie davis
PO Box 370, Blue Hill, ME 04614-0370
e-mail: maggiesdavis@gmail.com

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