Dr. Marry and Me,  Personal Writing

Now I gotta cut loose, footloose…

Yesterday, our friend came to pick up her pup Bailey, whom we had been pupsitting for the past 10 days. When they went home, I looked around our house and had a startling realization. For the first time since January 12, 1996, the day before Quinn was born, I had no one depending on me for anything. I mean, of course Dr Marry depends on me for certain things, but not in the same way as a child or a pet. As of that moment, no one needed me to let them out in the middle of the night. No one was waiting for a ride to their next activity. No one had any expectation of my time, energy or resources.

It’s been 25 years, 6 months and 27 days since that was last true. And believe me, I was such a different person then that I pretty much feel like it’s never been true in my entire life.

25 years, 6 months and 27 days ago, I was:

  • barely 23 years old
  • working at a local coffee shop part time
  • 7 months, 3 1/2 weeks pregnant
  • single
  • poor
  • a college graduate with a theatre degree
  • utterly uncertain what I was supposed to do with this baby that was due in 4 1/2 weeks

Flash forward to yesterday. And believe me, like life is for all of us, all those years have seemingly happened in a flash. Yesterday, I:

  • walked around our pretty little house, the one we now own lock, stock and barrel, admiring all our art from local artists I know and love
  • went out to admire all the flowers, both the wild ones growing with abandon in my prairie garden and the copious ones we planted this Mother’s Day
  • made a grocery list
  • drank a cup of Yorkshire tea and ate two digestive biscuits for the first time with no little girl standing right there expecting at least half of each one
  • had a meeting with my Boston coach to talk about making a real return to the theatre with a performative experience I am creating versus an acting role. Something for which I am extraordinarily excited and terrified to produce
  • met with my marketing consultant and a photographer friend to plot out a photo shoot I am doing next month
  • went with Dr Marry to the grocery store, Sam’s Club (hence the massive box of Cheerios), and TJ Maxx where we replaced all the rugs in our house that were beaten up from years of having a pup
My first uninterrupted treat that I got to enjoy all by myself.

I didn’t do anything particularly incredible yesterday, minus start to articulate my performance art piece to Laura—that is going to be incredible, but more on that as it develops. Yesterday wasn’t for doing anything incredible. Yesterday was for stopping to mark the transition between a life of “have to” to “get to.” It was a day for reflecting on where I was 25 years, 6 months and 27 days ago and where I am now.

As we backed out of the driveway on our way to the grocery store, I said, “Dr Marry, we could literally just keep driving. We could drive to Medora, to Duluth, to the ocean.” Except for our plants, there is no one or thing in the world who needs us to be home anytime…ever.

So we drove to the grocery store and Sam’s Club and TJ Maxx. And then we drove home again, Cheerios, rugs, a big container of cashews, a few other groceries and a new broom in the backseat. We didn’t need to go anywhere remarkable because where we’ve been is remarkable enough. I can only stop to thrill at where we’re going next.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.


  • Michelle Davis

    I’m left with an appreciation for the complex, simplicity of life. This particular piece made me crave your freedom. I still have 3 dependents. (2 human, 1 canine). I do, however, have this afternoon for which I have agreed to do nothing for any of them. I’m going to the greenhouse for some flowers. I’m going to wander around and take everything in and appreciate it all with reckless abandon! I’m going to spend time looking at every blooming flower in my perennial garden! I’m going to stick my nose in the blooms and breathe in their grounding fragrances. Eventually there will be the “What’s for dinner?” question. For now, though, it’s all me.
    Thank you, Dayna. I’ll send you a mental high five later as I clean the dirt out from under my nails.

    • Dayna Del Val

      Michelle—I adore this response so much. Enjoy the place you are at in life—it all moves so fast! Watch out for bees inside those perennials and be happy that you have a full house. It will likely be quiet soon enough. Thanks for reading and writing. Enjoy your day and I’ll be happy to send you a high five back!

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