This week’s Win(e)d Down is starting without wine. It is, after all, not quite eleven o’lock in the morning, and I am not on vacation.

I posted my review of Allegiant this week, and for the first time ever in a review, I gave away the ending of the book.  I’ve started reading Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed  and I still need to write the review for I Am Malala, and a friend asked me to join her book club so I need to get through Inferno before November 21. It’s all about pacing.

I had brunch yesterday with women I’ve known for years.  If you ever read my Mourning What Might Have Been piece, it’s the two women I mention in there that I am still friends with from that group.  We got deep quickly yesterday. L’s mom is very sick.  Like the kind of sick you sometimes don’t recover from.  And as we’re talking about that, we’re talking about all the things we’ve learned over the years, as if we’re 80 and looking back on a life well-lived. Except we are nowhere near 80 and probably don’t really know what we’re talking about; but  one thing I do know is how much I don’t know.  I also know that none of us get out of here alive.  One day, hopefully very far in the future when we’re tired and ready, we’re going to die.  None of us wants to be the last one standing- that’s so hard to contemplate, isn’t it? Outliving all your friends and family, so that at the end, it’s just you?  I don’t like to think much about that. It hurts my heart.  But, that was part of our conversation yesterday and it led to other conversations about the things that really matter to us right now.

We’ve paid a lot of dues over the years.  Weeks spent away from family and friends so we could work really long, stressful hours and rack up hotel and airline points for vacations we never had the time to take. Until we pushed ourselves so far that we nearly broke and we took that vacation or gave ourselves permission to quit or changed jobs.  We  finally realized- because we were finally with people who get it-  that it is OK to not respond to non-urgent emails during non-work hours. We also realized that we had to remind people of the definition of emergency.  We decided it is not OK to stay in a culture that sort-of rewards people for working way too many hours for way too many months on end for no good reason. We weren’t saving lives or curing Cancer.  We’d prefer to have a life, thank you very much.  So I walked away.

And now I work to live. And I cherish my friends.  And I get nostalgic. I get scared for the future. I don’t want  to be alone, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the best at opening up.  I am beginning to see the path I want the rest of my life to take. The kind of memories I want to look back on one day. The things I want to do to create those memories. The things that, when I look back on my life, won’t cause me to say “I regret not doing that.”  I am figuring out how to do. How to be. How to feel it all.  And maybe, how to share it.