Choices Guide – Love Defines

I’ve been on a binge this summer – a book binge.  It’s been fabulously indulgent and far more forgiving than binging on chocolate (which is also perfectly acceptable in “my book”).  Alas, I digress …

My reading habit hit a crescendo this summer when I had four different books in full swing with several others qued up on my night stand.  So, here’s my guilty admission … I’m supposed to be writing an inspired review for Maggie Dawson new book  titled The stuff that never happened.  I’m on page 118.  The book is 328 pages long and there is no way I’m finishing that sucker tonight – let alone 28 minutes ago when the post was due. 

Nothing like tardiness to inspire creativity.   Ironically, most of the stories I read this summer had one common theme  –  choices.  Yawner, right?   Nope … from Carol Burnett (Hollywood autobio) to Jillian Lauren (her life in harem), each story inspired me to consider whether choices define character – define destiny?   Heavy, I know.  

My younger self would have answered that question with an emphatic “yes.”  Look at Carol Burnett.  She had less than stellar parents (mother – alcoholic, father – MIA) and she is brilliantly successful,  funny, kind and above all REAL.  Why?  She lived a life of character and followed her life’s passion by making “good choices.”  No doubt, other happy events factored into the outcome.

What about other women, who don’t make the “right” choice or who make down-right bad choices.  Do her choices define her character – define her happiness – define her life?  It’s difficult to answer that question without sounding painfully judgmental.   

Take Jillian Lauren, author of Some Girls:  My Life in a Harem.   This story was both impossible to read and impossible to put down.  It is her true story about her life in a Brunei harem.  I was able to temper my judgment until she RETURNED to Brunei for a second stint at the palace.  The voice inside my head was screaming, “No! WHY? Don’t!”   Wasn’t there anyone in her life who could offer some perspective – love her enough –  beg her not to return to Brunei?  What about self respect and preservation?


For the most part, it’s been easy for me to make the “right” choices and because of that, perhaps easier to be judgmental.  Choices may be a compass for life’s journey, but “bad” choices don’t have to define or limit the entirety of a life.  (Jillian taught me that.)  When she was young, she chose a life of drugs, prostitution and money.  It was one of her many detours before finding herself at home today as a wife, mother and writer (among many other things, I suspect).

Funny … that book I’m supposed to be finished reading.  It’s also about choices  – life’s “what ifs.”  What if I had actually finished The stuff that never happened (and I will because it’s a juicy read)?  My inspired post would be the same with one important footnote – “what ifs,” even good ones, are wasted energy that create regret and stress.  This I know for certain … where choices guide, “what ifs” divide.    

One more thing.  Only love can define a life.  Thanks Jillian and Carol!


This post was inspired by the From Left to Write August book club featuring The Stuff that Never Happened by Maddie Dawson.  


5 Responses to “Choices Guide – Love Defines”

  1. Emily Says:

    I completely agree with your feelings on “what ifs?”. And admitting that you did not finish the book is pretty juicy!

  2. Sharon Young Says:

    Interesting choices!

  3. Maddie Dawson Says:

    I’m glad you think it’s a juicy read! thank you!

  4. Jillian Lauren Says:

    Thanks very much for this thoughtful and thought-provoking post!

  5. JennyB Says:

    I’ve always struggled with “what-ifs”, even knowing, as you say, that thinking leads to regret and stress. Why is it sometimes so seductive to look at the life we didn’t live rather than celebrate the beautiful things our choices did bring to us?

    I enjoyed your sprinklings of humor and that you grant your subjects a broad view. We all have lots of sides and stories that don’t get told!

    Great to meet you at Bloggy Boot Camp this weekend!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: