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If I Had Stayed
by Leslie Sittner

If I had idealized life goals like he did, he would have admired me more.
          He said so.
But my life moved along just fine.
If I had worked toward those goals, he would have respected me more.
          He said so.
But my career moved along just fine.
He had big goals and always worked toward them.
          He did so.
While my life moved along just fine.
If I had returned to work soon after our daughter was born, he would have loved me more.
          He said so.
If I changed to please him, we might have stayed together.
          He didn’t say so.
If I had followed his lead, his need
          his method
          his directive
          for a Complete Life Plan
would I have had a successful happy life?
Would I have been satisfied?
          I said no.
If I had done so I would not have found My Muse.
          I found her, my creative muse,
          she encouraged me to follow her
          step back
          allow life to flow around me.
My life moved along beautifully.
If I had stayed, I would not have known contentment.
          I say so.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is one of the many woodland parks where I walk my ancient dog. These two paths run alongside the Kayaderosseras Creek in my village of Ballston Spa, New York. We walk both paths and are always content going in either direction.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This prompt encouraged me to commit to words the almost unconscious choice of how I would lead my life after divorce in 1976. It’s only recently that I realized that by freely accepting both the need for and the influence of creativity, my life has been wonderfully rewarding. I am truly content.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner has been turning to the written word as a form of self-expression and reflection. She began this journey two years ago and is just finding her voice in different formats. Two of her stories are now available in print in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press, and on-line prose at 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, and 50 Word Stories. A variety of other prose and poetry can also be seen on-line at Silver Birch Press. She is finishing a book about travels with her ex-husband and hopes a publisher will find it as humorous as she and her writer-friends do.