We make choices in life…
Each choice, however small it may seem at the time, molds us and more importantly, the LIVES WE ARE LIVING, into who, what and WHERE we are today. Sometimes I am in awe when I look back and see how all of my seemingly unrelated choices have compounded into the life that I am leading. It’s pretty amazing to me. And I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the foresight years ago to have seen the path my life could take if I chose exactly the path I chose. And to my great relief– and surprise to be honest– my choices have brought me to exactly where I want to be.
For this, I’m grateful to God 1) because he gave me choices and 2) because he made me brave enough to take chances.
I am speaking of three HUGE life choices in particular here… and a few mini chances along the way as well…
When I look back at my life so far, all I can say is this: I’m so so glad that I never settled. I’m glad I never stood still…
I have always lived my life ‘as if’ and I am learning every day that there is NO OTHER way to live it. We only get one go after all. We only get so much time here. There is only ONE chance to make a mark, and an impact with your life.
So let’s go back and take a look…
Nine years ago, I would NEVER have ever been able to predict that my life would end up where it has ended up today. Nine years ago, I had just moved home from San Diego to Woodland, Ca and I was pretty positive that I had made a huge mistake. I had lived in San Diego for 6 years, and although I had a strong feeling that that was not where I was meant to live out my life, I just could not seem to picture myself anywhere else at that time. My friends where there, my memories where there, my life was there. But I had left a huge chunk of my wallet there as well, and it was just time to leave. After trip number 3 to Europe on a credit card, I could deny it no longer… it was time to go home and try to be a grown up.
My plan was to move home, live with the parents for a year, somehow pay off the $20,000 in credit card debit that I had accumulated and then I was going to move right back down to San Diego and continue my care free life.
I remember my friends warning me about dating while I was home.
They were concerned, even though I had been single for two years in San Diego and had no intentions of dating anyone ever again (after a series of bad relationships, that is), that I would find someone, fall in love, and never come back.
I moved home on a Tuesday. I went on my first date with my husband that same Friday. Isn’t God funny? If I had not gone to Europe so many times to get myself so far into debt that I had no other option but to move home at just that time, perhaps I would have never reconnected with Thomas in that first week… Imagine! Where on earth would I be?
So needless to say, my friend’s worst fears came true. I met someone, fell in love, and never moved back to San Diego.
This was my first HUGE life choice: Love.
I knew what San Diego had to offer me. I knew I would be happy there. I had my friends, I had security, I had a job, I had a future. And I knew that dating Thomas was sealing my fate of potentially living in Woodland for the rest of my life… and yet, I didn’t want to settle for what I KNEW. I decided to stay and struggle with Thomas instead. I chose love. But mainly, I chose ME. And choosing ME meant choosing the unknown.
Somehow I’ve always sensed that when faced with a choice, the right answer is almost always the one that makes me most uncomfortable. My friend, Tori Hein, put it more appropriately- the right choice is usually the one that requires the most faith.
Well, choosing Thomas meant knowing nothing! Where would we end up? Where would we even begin? Where would we work? How would we ever afford a family? So many unknowns. So many fears. So many ‘what ifs.’
And just as I suspected, we were broke from the start. We lived with my mother. We ate what my mother cooked. We went on the vacations my mother invited us on. To say that we were living paycheck to paycheck would be drastically understating it.
I took a job that I thought I would love at an eye doctors. I wanted to get into the medical field, but I quickly learned that doctors are not always a picnic, but they are ALWAYS the ones calling the shots. Without realizing it… I had surrendered my entire life to my bosses… they decided my hours, my vacations, my WORTH! But it was stable, right? It’s what everyone does, right? It was the option that had the least unknowns! ‘Get a ‘secure’ job, they say! (What does that even mean?) So I did.
And on the other side of things, Thomas took a job working construction, even though he hated it. It was for money. It was for stability. It was for our future and yet it was NOT for us. Not at all. None of it!
Jump forward a year, 2008…
I remember asking Thomas what he REALLY wanted to do for a living. We had been struggling for a year, working the jobs we didn’t like for the sole purpose of ‘bettering our situation,’ and yet we were no better off. We were still living with my mom. We were still broke. And I was still in debt. So I figured, what the heck did we have to lose at that point? I just couldn’t BARE the thought of forty years of both of us doing what we thought we should be doing, and not what we actually felt called to do.
I asked Thomas what he would do if he could do anything. I refused to become the couple that came home from work every night and complained about our jobs to one another. Life is hard enough! And I just could NOT see the point in that!
So I asked him… and he told me that he wanted to join the Air Force and he wanted to be a firefighter.
Well alright then! That was to become our plan. Why head any further down the path we were on, if that wasn’t leading us to where we wanted to be? Sometimes the right thing feels like picking the most ridiculous option!
I say ridiculous because if you know anything about our lovely military, you know that taking this path meant taking a pretty significant pay cut… one that we already couldn’t afford to take. But again, life is too short to settle… so we took the chance.
This was the second HUGE life choice. We would not be where we are today without being selfish in that moment and doing what we WANTED to do instead of what our circumstances would suggest we should do. We followed faith, instead of being controlled by our fear.
And trust me, fear was there.
Thomas went off to boot camp, and I continued trucking away with my medical career… a career that was proving to drain me of all of my time and energy, without filling me back up with any sort of satisfaction or financial GAIN (not just making ends meet, but GAINING). But when I asked myself the same question I had asked Thomas: What did I really want to be doing? Theatre just seemed like an irresponsible option at the time. We couldn’t afford to both chase our dreams. Because if there is no money in the medical field, there is REALLY NO money in theatre!! So I just continued on. At least I could rest well knowing that the man I loved was loving what he was doing. I knew that my day would come… I just had no idea what form my next life choice was going to take!
And to be honest, if I wasn’t living my life slightly selfishly, praying for and wanting something better for myself, I would have missed this opportunity all together. I would never have believed in the potential. I would have settled. I would have championed my husband, without ever really finding my purpose.
Almost nine years ago, I was invited- fatfully so- to an Arbonne party.
I remember opening the email invite at work and immediately thinking:
“Oh my Goodness! My very smart friend, who has a degree and a real job, is doing one of THOSE types of businesses!”
I honestly thought she was being ridiculous! Everyone knows those things are scams. Everyone knows they don’t work. You never make money. EVERYONE knows…
(But what did I know? Like really KNOW about it?)
Going to that party… was one of those mini chances I mentioned before. You just have no idea, when you’re making what seems to be a simple decision, what an impact it will make on the rest of your life. I shutter to think where I would be without having gone.
I told you that I had no idea the form in which my huge life choices were going to take! We never know! But I am grateful that I had such a strong negative reaction to my friend starting this business, because it really incentivized me to actually go to the party so that I could talk some sense into her! And that was my only intention… not to buy, certainly not to do the business… but to harass her for getting involved with such a stupid, house wife-type business!
God works in mysterious ways, but He is always good.
Here I was hoping and praying for something more to come into my life… and without even realizing it… I nearly shot this gift down before I even had the chance to open the wrapping.
I like to think about the story of how a man was caught in a flash flood and moments before it hit, he was warned that it would come on the radio. Once he climbed onto his roof to escape the water, praying endlessly for God to save him, a helicopter flew over head and offered assistance. He told them ‘No, God will save me!’ Once the helicopter flew off, a boat came by and offered assistance. He told them ‘No, God will save me!’ Of course, the man died and when he greeted God in heaven and asked why God had not saved him… God could only respond ‘I warned you that the flood would come. I sent a helicopter and a boat to save you. I did answer your prayers!’
I love that story because so often we are blind, or UNWILLING TO SEE, the true blessings that are offered up to us daily. Everything happens for a reason. Never forget that! God wastes nothing. No season of trial, no random invite, no broken heart is without it’s specific purpose in your journey towards your best life.
So, needless to say, I went to that party… broke as a joke, still living at my moms–now MARRIED and living at my mom’s– still every bit as in debt as I was two years before, still working my butt off to better our situation at a job I didn’t like, still no where NEAR buying a house or even moving out, no where near starting the family I so desperately wanted… I was no where.
When I was trying to leave San Diego one of the three times I attempted before actually making the move home, I had a conversation with a dear friend about life. I told him that I knew moving home was a step backwards, but I thought that sometimes taking a step backwards was the only way to take a step forward. He disagreed. He told me that he would much rather stand still, than ever take a step backwards. I thought he was brilliant. I stayed in San Diego another year after that conversation…
Looking back… There is NO SUCH THING as a step backwards… the world only moves forward. I will NEVER stand still again. Standing still is being passive. That was definitely a mini life choice that taught me a major life lesson!
Life is too short to stand still. And if there is no stepping backwards, you’re only required to step to take action. Just step! Do anything but standing still, and staying the same.
I went to that Arbonne party and two quite extraordinary things happened to me there! One: I learned! I actually learned a TON about what I was doing to my body and why I might be on 5 medications for no reason… and Two: I was asked a very important question:
Where will you be in 5 years if you keep doing what you’re doing?
I had never thought of it in just that way. I knew where I wanted to be in 5 years. I knew what I dreamed I would be doing in 5 years. I knew what I THOUGHT and HOPED I would be doing in 5 years… but when I stopped to think about what I ACTUALLY WOULD be doing in 5 years if I stayed on the path I was on… I couldn’t help but look back at the past two years and think… God, I’ll be doing the same dang thing five years from now!!!! How did I let that happen???? All my dream chasing and wanting and hoping for more was leading me down the exact road I was trying to avoid!
Ever heard the phrase: “Wish in one hand and take a poop in the other and see which one fills up faster?”
I was wishing my way into a fist load of nada!
So that was it. I made a decision (after doing some research), that this ridiculous option was going to be THE EXACT THING that was going to save us. Not just save me, but save my family! We were going to get everything we ever wanted out of this crazy, stupid, house-wife type business!
This was HUGE life choice number three… not going to that party, but DECIDING that this was the answer. DECIDING that there are no coincidences. DECIDING that if I was going to pray and wish and hope for things to change, I had better be willing to chance some things. And that’s just what I did…
Jump forward nine years to the present…
I didn’t know at the time that I was making HUGE life choices… but I can see it so plainly now. We make HUGE life choices, and take a lot of mini chances every day. When we choose to complain instead of change, we make that choice. We we choose to settle, instead of change, we make that choice. When we choose to stay the path even when the path isn’t our best life, we make that choice. Everything, EVERYTHING in life is a choice. And it all leads you to where you are going… so beware! Look for those road signs. Look for those radio warnings about the flash flood that might come. Look for the helicopters flying around to save you… because often times we are too settled to notice them!
Nine years ago, I made a small change. I took on the huge challenge of starting a business from home in the hopes that one day it would pay off for my family. I hoped more than anything else that even if I never got to see true financial freedom from this opportunity… that I would at least get some of the choices back in my life… I wanted to be able to choose if I stayed home with my family. I wanted to be able to choose when, not IF, I got to go on vacations… and where those vacations would be to. I wanted to choose my worth, and choose what I was going to do with my time.
It’s 10am on a Tuesday and I am sitting here, with my kids in the next room, writing a blog because writing is one of the many passions that I want to pursue. Once brave choice empowers another. It opens the doors to what you’re really capable of when you make the choice and take the chance…
I’m happy to report that that initial debt that sent me spinning at the beginning of my marriage is paid off. Two of our three cars are paid off. We don’t live at my mom’s anymore. We’re into our second home purchase, which is the farm we have always dreamed of, and we’re finishing up the plans to our dream home that we plan to start building on our property soon.
I don’t tell you this to brag. I tell you this to encourage you.
We went from living paycheck to paycheck, to living comfortably in a life of choices… choices that WE make for OUR family. And you can too. I mean, why NOT you? Why the heck not?
Be aware of the HUGE life choices that disguise themselves as small decisions. They’re all there for a reason. They’re the helicopter circling your house waiting for you to step into YOUR answered prayer. And be careful not to miss the mini chances that come your way too. Because if you take them, you might just change everything.
Don’t ever stand still in life.
Don’t ever miss the reason behind each and everything that happens.
Don’t ever let life just happen to you.
Live your BEST life!