I use the term “reference points” because it helps me see them. They're the activities, beliefs and memories I return to over and over because of the importance and meaning they have in my life. I’ve had quite a collection - ideas about God, my daily jog, a favorite pair of jeans, the 3:00 afternoon snack at the office, my daughters’ educations, my ideas about being a twin - just to name a few.
I think we all have them. Many are provided to us by our families and communities - churches are expert at offering us these stars by which to steer our course. But, if we’re learning and growing, our personal beliefs and practices will change and evolve - hopefully beyond the boundaries of our upbringing.
Before my decision that changed everything, my reference points were external, revolving around my job as Director of a non-profit, caring for my daughters, maintaining my physical health, and fixing my house. I made valiant attempts to nurture internal, spiritual reference points, but most of my energy was spent on the demands of survival and physical maintenance.
When I decided to stay with Al, I left my job, my home and my community. My daughters were both in college, so I felt free to commit my attention and energy wholly to his care. I let go of nearly everything, and focused vigilantly on making loving, moment-to-moment choices.
I changed my reference points. By letting go of the inaccurate ones, holding stubbornly to those I wanted to be more true in my life, I learned that I had the ability to create whatever I had the courage and passion to imagine.