A Healthy Stepmother . . . dwells in possibility.

I did something really old-school today. I got out a card and envelope and used an actual pen to write a thank-you note to my in-laws for the nice birthday gift they sent. While I was at it, I wrote a note to my mother-in-law. There’s no typo here, I have two sets of in-laws. My father-in-law and stepmother-in-law, and my mother-in-law. My stepfather-in-law died almost 3 years ago.

It’s been a long time since I put pen to paper, but I was inspired by a clean desk and the box of beautiful notecards I unearthed in a pile of paper. As I wrote the cards out, I paused to find the just-right wording and my eyes fell on the quote inside the lid of the box of notecards.

Dwell in possibility. 
Emily Dickinson

The word dwell holds so much. It’s all about staying long in a moment and not hurrying away. Most of the time, we are urged to leave the moment. For example: do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment (Buddha). Or, don’t dwell on what went wrong, instead, focus on what to do next…spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer. (Denis Waitley). And, it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. (J. K. Rowling)

For me, Dickinson’s quote, dwell in possibility, stands out. It insists . . . do stay. Do linger. Do mull. Do ruminate. On the possibilities.

And, I agree. For such a long time, I found myself dragged by old habits inherited from my family to be hyper-critical, analyzing each moment for how good it was, rather than relaxing and enjoying the now. Mixed up in all that reactivity, I forgot to dwell in possibilities.

There are many ways to imagine possibilities. I love to have dreaming sessions and let my imagination run wild. Even J.K. Rowling, who suggests we shouldn’t dream lest we forget to live, must have had an active dream-life to write the Harry Potter series.

A Healthy Stepmother . . . dwells in possibility.Lately, I’ve been turning my dreams toward me and my husband and his children? I’ve loosened my hold on the worry of whether the things I dreamed could ever happen. I’m focusing instead on the possibilities. It’s basically brainstorming and not censoring what gets put on the list. Any idea is legitimate and I can review it later and see if I want to keep it.

When I dwell in the possibilities of my relationship with my husband, I see more fun and less worry. I see us laughing and sharing, fatigued some days but excited about the long-term future. I find it’s easier to let the less-than-desirable slip off my shoulders when I dwell on the possibilities.

When I dwell in possibilities with my stepkids, I see fun and interaction, not pain or suffering. I don’t imagine myself with a furrowed brow that needs ironing out. I dwell and recall the times we shared a laugh or the political cartoon I couldn’t wait to share because politics are our connection.

Possibilities are endless and not to be confused with expectations that don’t match real life. But, if I’m stuck in my old ruts, I lose sight of the fact that I can go this way or that way, over here or over there, up or down, back or forward, left or right, curved or straight, wide or narrow, together or solo, and the whole range of places in-between those places.


I love to dwell in them.

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