Regret is something that none of us want and yet all of us have. It’s the rare human that doesn’t feel regret over some aspect of their life. The past few days have been a time of introspection for me over a decision I made five years ago.
For about ten years I owned a place in Montana called Dreaming Bear Ranch, which was my refuge from the world. I searched for three years to find this spectacular piece of heaven. As a result of divorce and the resulting financial situation, I sold Dreaming Bear Ranch in 2004 as a single mom, to fund my daughter’s dream to be a recording artist.
Although I now live in beautiful Boulder, CO, in many ways, my heart still lives in Montana.
The new owner of Dreaming Bear lives out of state and enjoys it as a second home when his time allows. This week I’m visiting the ranch with my husband and grown children, as a guest of the new owner. It’s just us, along with the horses, bears, mountain lions, elk and deer on 230 acres.
I’m writing this with a view looking out over a vast meadow surrounded by alpine forest and the backdrop of a snow-covered mountain peak. It’s almost surreal because it’s so picture perfect.
This is like old times to have the family back at the ranch again. It’s also my husband’s first time to visit the area and he loves it. The kids and I have such amazing memories from our times spent here together.
There are very few things in my life that I feel regret over, but if there was one, it would be the loss of this ranch. I realize my memories are of the many amazing times here rather than the staggering mortgage payment, the constant maintenance and the feeling of the ranch owning me rather than me owning it. As with many decisions, it’s interesting how in hindsight we seem to remember only the good times and not all of the reasons we made the decision at that time in the first place.
Life is a trade off. We trade our experience and time for money, money for things and experiences. Looking back just five years ago, there is a part of me that questions all the things I should have done, or could have done to keep the ranch, which although is a human response, is just silly. Beating ourselves up over a past decision serves no good for anyone.
The decision I made then was perfect at that time. It turns out that I traded this property for experiences of a lifetime with my daughter, trips with her to Guantanamo Bay and Iraq to entertain our troops, a duet for my daughter with Willie Nelson, relocating to California to provide education for my gifted son, sailing in the Caribbean and relocating to Boulder, CO where I met my husband. I wouldn’t trade these things for anything- even the ranch. We can’t go back in time, only forward.
The one thing that I’ve learned is that nothing kills the feeling of regret like gratitude. Instead of focusing on what was, and what could have been, each time I adjust my focus to the things in my life in this very moment that I am grateful for, everything shifts. I am profoundly grateful for the time with my children and my husband. I am grateful to be able to enjoy such a beautiful place without having to “own” it.
I believe all things happen in the perfect time for the perfect reason, even if at the time we can’t see it. This experience is only a piece of a magical puzzle that will one day make perfect sense. All I have to do is trust the process and practice gratitude.
Today, I am grateful for the sunshine on this meadow, for the welcoming feel of this land, for the memories I’m about to create with the family on our hike this afternoon, and for the generosity of the owners to allow us this opportunity to be here. No matter what’s happened in the past, life is ALWAYS great if we focus on the things in our life that we are truly grateful for. And today, I’m profoundly grateful for my family and for this beautiful place called Montana.