My high school Spanish teacher was a very interesting man.  His class was hard.  We had to be ready every day for a surprise test, so we had to study all the material to be prepared.

He was an orthography freak so he taught us how to spell properly using very unorthodox methods.

The other day I found my essays from 10th and 11th grade.

It was pretty amusing to read some of them, and remember the way I used to think and see life at 16.

I wrote about family, parenting, love, relationships, life in general.  My fears about becoming a mom and how I wanted to be a great one.  I wrote about my expectations of marriage and the person I would fall in love with.

I am not sure if the way I was expressing things at that age was a product of the environment or purely what I was influenced to say or do, or both.

I have been reflecting about my past lately – the places I’ve visited, the people I’ve met, the food I’ve tasted, but mostly I’ve been thinking about my mistakes, the things I should’ve or shouldn’t have done, my regrets and the what ifs.

Reading some of my essays made me go back in time and remember how simple things seemed in high school and how positive my outlook of life was.

As part of our Spanish course we read a book from Leo Buscaglia, also known as Dr. Love.  We had to write letters (using a typewriter) to Dr. Buscaglia discussing each of the book chapters.

I thought about how a letter to Dr. Buscaglia would be like if I wrote it today.  The first draft came out as a venting, feel sorry for me session.

I then decided to focus on the positive side of things and find the silver lining.

So I tweaked my initial letter and it came out like this:

Dear Dr. Buscaglia,  

Some people say they live with no regrets.  I would be lying if I said I had none.  I have many regrets but, at the same time, my life is the product of all the learning experiences I was forced to face because of my mistakes.

I regret not being assertive enough to find the correct path to happiness.  Perhaps I did not know myself enough to know which things really made me happy.  I also regret having settled for so little when I feel and believe I deserve so much more. 

I went through breast cancer in my early 30s and after that experience I felt bulletproof and capable of conquering the world.  Perhaps that feeling of empowerment impaired my ability to make the right decisions sometimes.

Nonetheless, I am happy with the person I have become and the life I am living now.

I am the mother of a handsome boy, the light of my life, who makes me happy every day. 

I am back in my hometown, close to my family and childhood friends, after many years of absence. 

Seeing some of my friends happily married after many years makes me question what happened to the cookie-cutter version of love I had in mind for myself.

I want to ask you, Dr. Buscaglia, what happened to my view of life, the life I hoped for back when I was 16 when I wrote you my first letters?

Was my life tainted by unexpected life events?  Were some of my decisions a product of loneliness or the environment?

I think about these things every night before I go to bed.  I picture myself making different decisions, and imagine how my life would be like if I had married my college boyfriend or my high school crush.

However, I have found solace at home with my family.  I feel safe. Seeing my son grow up and become a good boy brings me great joy.  

I am trying to get acclimated to the life that was once mine, but that at times feels so foreign, even in my hometown.

Writing this letter was a very cathartic exercise.

I have the best memories of my Spanish teacher – a moralist and wise man who always encouraged us to thrive and pushed us to always try harder.

I wish I could be in his class again and re-write those essays.

I would probably write an essay about my health crisis with breast cancer, another one about motherhood and certainly one where I analyze my love life in detail and why I think I have failed in the pursuit of Mr. Right.

I don’t want to ignore my regrets, but I don’t want to get lost in them either.

Even though sometimes I feel I have spent my best years learning about myself through my mistakes, I dont believe it is too late to find the most appropriate road to a hopeful place in the future.

I want to make it a daily exercise to focus on finding that positive, happy place, and what I really wish for my future –  no settling allowed.