Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Gwen M. Plano

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today Gwen Plano shares her appreciation of the love and strength she received from her father throughout her life and the lessons she absorbed.

I wish I knew then what I know now. by Gwen Plano

 A few weeks ago, in Sedona, AZ

When I was a child, I knew that life had ups and downs. It was everywhere visible on the farm. But I didn’t understand that each moment is a gift. It’s only these latter years that have helped me realize this fact. I’ll backtrack a little to explain what I mean.

Through tears and plenty of fearful situations, my dad would make sure his seven children were safe. When I was thrown from a horse face down on a gravel road, it was my dad who picked me up and took me to the hospital where I remained for the week. When I had pneumonia and could no longer breathe, it was my dad who rescued me. Time and time again, he did that for me and my siblings. And because of his actions, I always knew he would take care of things, take care of me.

Gwen holding her youngest sister. 

What I didn’t know was that there would come a time when I would be on my own. Truly on my own. Such a thought didn’t register when I was young. I wasn’t reflective about life in that way. Dad was there, and he was larger than life.

Gwen and her parents at her first wedding.

As I moved into adulthood, my dad slipped slowly to the background and with that movement, I became responsible for my life and soon the lives of my four children. I always worked at one college or another, and when I returned home in the evenings, I attended to other demands. Sometimes life was a blur – diapers to change, little bellies to fill, appointments to keep. And imperceptibly, I slipped into a world that barely included me.

It was tragedy that woke me up, opened my eyes and my heart. And I realized that Dad’s strength was mine. At first, I didn’t understand all the ‘whys’ of the challenges of life. But as the years passed, I began to see the hidden giftedness of those trials. I experienced how pain could bring me into compassion for others, and how fear drew me to a crossroads of choices.

At some point, I stopped thinking in terms of what is fair or not. Life simply isn’t fair in the ways we normally think of it. Rather, I began seeing that life is about learning – learning how to love ourselves and others. Learning about who we are and finding our voice.

Learning about why we are given life in the first place.

Gwen at 22, with her first son. Living in the country, attending Purdue University in Indiana. 

When this shift began, I thought a lot about my dad. As a farmer, he wasn’t one for words, but when he spoke, I listened. He lost his arm in a farm accident, but after recovering, he determined he would learn to do what any man could do with his one arm. And he did. “If you put your mind to it,” he’d say, “you can do anything.” I didn’t believe him at that time, but I do now.

As my dad aged into his 90s, he struggled to stand, sometimes to remember. But with a few laughs, he’d claim, “This is better than the alternative.” When he was about 92, I drove him to the hospital for surgery. He asked that I first drive him past his fields. One by one we paused by expanses of wheat, sugar beets, and cotton. Dad would take a deep breath and say, “Isn’t it beautiful, Gwen?” I’d always acknowledge that it was, and in heart I registered that he needed that glimpse of beauty before undergoing a mastectomy for breast cancer.

The above experience prompted the realization that my dad and I were more alike than not. Nothing calms my soul more than nature, and clearly this was true of him as well.
So, what do I wish I knew as a young person that I know now? I wish I really, really understood that though life is full of challenges, every moment is a gift worth embracing. I wish I knew that we are given life to learn and to become more fully the gift itself. I wish I understood that sorrow pursues each of us – the good and the bad, the rich and the poor.

But through sorrow’s arrival, we learn. I wish I knew that beauty is inherent in our spirits, and it can lift our souls during the darkest moments. I wish I knew that Dad not only protected me, saved me, he loved me tenderly – even though he never said the words.

©Gwen Plano 2022

My thanks to Gwen for this post that underlines the need to appreciate that we all face sorrow in our lives but we can learn from this and treasure the support and love others give us.  I know Gwen would love to receive your thoughts on this.

About Gwen M. Plano

Gwen M. Plano, aka Gwendolyn M. Plano, grew up in Southern California and spent most of her professional life in higher education. She taught and served as an administrator in colleges in Japan, New York, Connecticut, and California. Gwen’s academic background is in theology and counseling. Recently retired, she now lives in the Midwest with her husband and enjoys writing and travel.

Gwen’s first book is an acclaimed memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love. Her second book, The Contract between heaven and earth, is a thriller fiction novel, co-authored by John W. Howell. It has received multiple awards and is an Amazon Best Seller. The Choice, the unexpected heroes is the sequel to The Contract. It is also a thriller, involving the attempt of an unfriendly nation to take over the world. The third book in the series, The Culmination, a new beginning is an action-packed military thriller that spans the globe and involves multiple Heads of State and the threat of World War III. Only love can change the fate of humanity.

When Gwen is not writing, she out and about in the beautiful Ozark mountains which she now calls home.

Read the reviews and buy the books: : Amazon UKand : Amazon USfollow Gwen : Goodreads –website:Gwen PlanoTwitter: @gmplano

Books by Gwen M. Plano

One of the reviews for Culmination

Book three in a series, The Culmination reads easily as a standalone novel. A political thriller, that addresses denuclearization, tensions in the Middle East, and the fate of refugees, much of the story echoes current headlines. The plot is complex involving multiple heads of state, along with the strategical give and take of political maneuvering on a global level. The author clearly put an extensive amount of research into this book, and it shows. Adrenalin-fueled scenes alter with more cerebral moments, and even a few romantic interludes.

I especially loved the evolution of the relationship between the two central characters, Margaret Adler, VP of the United States and Ivan Smirnov, acting President of Russia. During the course of the novel those titles change, and we learn more about each, including richly developed backgrounds. I was thoroughly invested in the difficulties Margaret and Ivan faced, both on personal and political levels. Their scenes together were among my favorites of the book. There’s also a young refugee child who factors into the story and who stole my heart.

A unique combination of character-driven and plot-driven fiction, I recommend this compelling tale to readers who enjoy strong character development and complexly-plotted intrigue.  


Thanks for dropping by today and it would be great if you could share Gwen’s post. Thanks Sally.

127 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Gwen M. Plano

  1. That is a stunning response and one that I found deeply moving as well as uplifting. That wedding photo shows her father standing solid and firm at her side and I know he’d have been immensely touched by this tribute to him. This is a wonderful series, Sally. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautiful lesson from your Dad, Gwen. I admire the strength and determination he had. My father-in-law lost an arm in an industrial accident, but he didn’t let it stop him. He was a tower of strength, especially for me when my husband was diagnosed with cancer.

    Thank you for hosting today, Sally.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What an important message, and such a poignant one. Not to mention a lovely tribute to your father. Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us, Gwen.

    And thank you, Sally, for bringing it to us.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you, Sally, for the invitation to write about “I wish I knew then what I know now.” This was a thoughtful exercise for me and I cherish the time spent on the response. Thank you. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You made me tear up, Gwen. That was beautiful. You honor your father well with this post. Thank you for sharing these insights with us. Thanks for sharing her words, Sally! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Wow. Gwen, that was beautiful. I need to run for a box of tissues. What a heartfelt tribute to your dad and, in a way, a tribute to the person you’ve become, because those lessons you learned from your dad shine through you. Many hugs. Thanks for sharing, Sally. A beautiful feature.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Though I’m on a blog break today, when I saw your name pop up in my Inbox, I knew I had to see how you answered Sally’s question. I’m BEYOND glad I stopped by, Gwen. That was one of the most beautiful and moving posts I’ve ever read, my friend! You’ve elegantly spelled out the essential truth of Life, namely that every single moment is a gift, even if we don’t see it at the time. Thank you so much for reminding us! 🤗💖🤗

    Liked by 3 people

  8. A wonderful tribute for a wonderful man, who helped his daughter discover her own wonderfulness! These words resonate in particular: “learning how to love ourselves and others. Learning about who we are and finding our voice.” And yes, our inner light and beauty do lift our souls in the darkest moments. Thank you for sharing your hard-earned wisdom and profound insights, Gwen. And huge congrats on the fabulous book review.

    Sally, thanks for sharing. This is a great post series.

    Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

    Hugs 💕🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is beautiful, Gwen. What an important lesson you learned from your dad. Such wisdom in the words, if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. I love all the photos through the stages of your life. Thank you for sharing your dad and gifts with us. Xo

    Liked by 3 people

  10. This is such a moving post, Gwen. Beautifully written, it not only delivers an important and inspirational message, but it’s also a lovely tribute to your father. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and for exposing a wonderful glimpse of your life and family. I loved the photos, too, and how nice to see my review in support of your work. Hugs to you and Sally both!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. What a wonderful father, with seven children and a farm to run he still had time for her. I am wondering if being on a farm you are at least with your family not far away in an office or a job away from home. A long life meant there must have been many times when he was there to support Gwen.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Oh my, Gwen. This is such a beautiful piece of writing. You made me feel what you feel for your father and your realizations. Thank you for sharing and the photos are priceless. Hugs, my friend! Thank you, Sally!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I like the way you’ve looked back at those carefree years and your love for your dad shines through your words. I love your picture with your cute siblings Gwen. Thanks for sharing those pearls of wisdom.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This was a very moving tribute to your father and your strength. You are so right, “life is about learning who we are and finding our voice.” Excellent post, Gwen, and thanks for sharing your story with us. Hugs
    Reblogged on Improvisation – “The Art of Living”

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Such a beautifully written post that highlights the importance a father’s role plays in our lives a wonderful tribute to your dad, Gwen plus driving past the fields was just as it should have been… x

    Liked by 3 people

  16. A beautiful telling Gwen. Your story is almost like Dorothy finding that she always did have the power to get home. And that picture of you at 22??? You looked 12! Lovely share.<3

    Liked by 2 people

  17. This is such a beautiful piece of writing, Gwen. Life truly is a gift–full of wonderful and harsh lessons. Sometimes we don’t understand this until we’ve been forced to live it. I envy those who learn it early on in their journey. I’ve come to understand (and appreciate) the only thing we can possibly take with us when we leave this world is love. We cannot take even our shoe strings. But love will follow us. Love for people, love for life, love for the experiences. It’s what we learn while we are here that really matters.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. My goodness, what a beautiful reflection of your father, and an understanding of what is important. Nature is quite the healer in so many ways. Thank you for this lovely and heartwarming post, Gwen.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Gwen, thank you for this beautiful post which is even more special in the context of some of the difficulties you faced during your life. It is a lovely extension of your life story as detailed in Letting go into perfect love.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thanks for this Qwen. This had me in tears as it reminded me of my dear dad especially when you said, “As a farmer, he wasn’t one for words, but when he spoke, I listened.” So true, must be a farmer thing. We were both lucky to have such wonderful men in our lives. I never liked living on the farm and couldn’t wait to leave at age 17. It was later that I realized the value of the lessons learned on the farm, as you did.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I’m limiting myself to fifteen minutes of blogging per day while I’m traveling, and I didn’t see Gwen’s post until now. I think our loved ones show and teach us through their actions as much as their words. I also got a chuckle because my mother-in-law also used the phrase, “It’s better than the alternative.”

    Liked by 2 people

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  23. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! – Guest Round Up – Part Three – Jacquie Biggar, Harmony Kent, Jan Sikes, Gwen M. Plano, Darlene Foster, William Price King, Toni Pike, The Story Reading Ape, Jennie Fi

  24. This is absolutely beautiful. I wish we all realized those parts of our parents that are within us because of our relationship with them. I know my mom’s spirit is in me. Thanks for sharing this wonderful tribute to your father, Gwen.

    Liked by 1 person

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