Risk? That’s Just my Life


I never thought I was much of a risk taker. After thinking about it and speaking to others though, I guess I do tend to push the envelope more often than I think.

By definition, a risk is an exposure to the chance of injury or loss. Heck, that means a majority of my life has been a series of risks if I am really honest.

It seems that my pattern is to find something that interests me, and I just do it. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking, researching or preparing. Whether my lack of planning or pondering has helped or hurt me, I can’t be for sure.

My first big risk was deciding to join the Army Reserve when I was 29 years old. I wasn’t particularly fit. As a matter of fact, I was pretty out of shape. It was just an idea that someone tossed out as a way to use my journalism degree and keep my retail management job that was paying the bills. So, I spoke to a recruiter and asked dismally few questions, and bam. I was wearing a uniform and struggling to keep up with 18-year-olds at basic training. This decision wound up shaping my entire future.

Another big risk was deciding to accept a job at a photography studio. It was a huge step for me as all of my photography experience was in the military. I had not done any photography in a studio or for an event that did not require a weapon. I was also not a big technical person with my camera. So, going to a full-time photographer position was very intimidating. I didn’t always know the lingo or steps I needed to get the shot I wanted. But, when the position was offered, I ran with it as it was my big opportunity to broaden my photography skills. I still have a lot to learn but my time at the studio was invaluable and completely altered how I shoot with my camera.

There have also been a series of smaller risks that I would have never imagined myself signing up for. Friends have talked me into signing up for events that I know I claimed to be ridiculous or would have never even considered in the past. In my youth, I was a horrible runner. Never in a million years did I want to run anywhere, especially for a long distance. I even said things like, “Who the heck pays to run in races? That is the stupidest thing ever. If you want to run, just go outside and run for free.” Fast forward several years later and I have now run (and paid to do so) in four half marathons and four mud-obstacle races. There has not been a lot of training or preparation either. It is simply a friend asks, and I sign up and pay my fee. (Again, keep in mind that I am not some super fit chick. Just an average woman in her 40s trying to have fun.) These events have showed me that I am capable of more than I thought…or slightly crazy.

To mix things up though, I have thrown in other random risks in the name of “fun.” I got my very first horse in my late 30s when my only real horse knowledge was a handful of trail rides and my little girl dreams of ponies. I signed up for a trapeze class to celebrate my 43rd birthday…just because I could and I wanted to. While in Hungry, I decided to bungee jump over water after watching a handful of strangers do it and not die. As someone who gets dizzy when their hands are over their head for a few minutes, I signed up for a paddle board yoga class (and I never fell in the water by some miracle)! After my divorce wounds healed, I went on some Match.com dates. (That may have been the biggest risk ever.) With the goal of writing being one of those never-have-the-time-to-do wishes, I started blogging with no real plan or research. All of these random risks have showed me that life can be full, varied and interesting. I don’t have to be good at something before I do it. Now, I know it is OK to just try new things and embrace all that life has to offer.

Overall, I don’t know if my risks show that I am adventurous and passionate about life or that I am half crazy and willing to try anything once. I like to think it’s called a zest for life, which would make sense considering my biggest risk of all: getting divorced.

I spent over 20 years in a marriage that probably should have ended in five, or maybe even ten at the max. But, both of us were young and stubborn. We didn’t want to give up. We didn’t want the stigma of divorce. There was some love over the years, but, the love was not enough to help us survive. However, for two decades we beat the marriage to a pulp and did everything but divorce. He wanted to leave. I wanted to leave. Yet, neither of us did. For years, we just stayed miserable. So, when we both finally had enough, it was time to risk it all and leave.

For someone that got married when they were 18, that was scary. It was my biggest and most life-shaping risk. I had some irrational fear that I could not make it as a single woman. I know that was part of the reason I stayed so long in misery. And, I really did believe and want the marriage-is-forever life that included telling people how two high school sweethearts could make it to their 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, this dream and reality were not in the same relationship time zone.

Now that I am single, I’ve realized how silly it was to be scared. I am perfectly capable of surviving on my own. I thrived on two deployments before I decided to divorce, and yet, I thought I could not manage in the United States. I know. It’s silly and I can’t completely explain it. I just know that fear (and others) paralyzed me from taking action. I look at my life now and realize, I can breathe. I can live. I can do things I want to do. And that’s the thing. Now that I have control over my life, I want to do it all. So bring out those envelopes full of ideas, I will push them all over and schedule nearly all of them onto my calendar – at least once.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the Daily Prompt ~ Envelope Pushers

The Good Old Days of War


Most people don’t normally think of the word war and ‘good old days’ together. Nonetheless, this was my experience during my first deployment, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

First, let me explain a few things. I am not a historian or a politician. I don’t know all the events or the implications of things that happened outside of my vantage point, and I certainly am not saying the reasons that caused the war are to be celebrated. All I can tell you is my story, from my perspective, and how those experiences forever shaped who I am today.

It was 2002, and I was deployed to Bosnia, Tuzla Base to be specific. Being new to the Army Reserve, I was scared to deploy. And to make it worse, I was really ignorant about what was happening in the world. Having lived a sheltered American existence, I was essentially unfamiliar with the details and brutality of the Bosnian conflict. The years preceding my deployment were a blur of chaos. I was in a dying marriage where I filled my time working a full-time retail management job and completing my last year of college. On top of those demanding facts of life, I was also raising two toddlers. So, upon completing a bachelor’s degree, I guess I needed something to fill all that new free time??? The answer was to join the Army Reserve at 29 years old. (It made sense at the time, but that is another post.) Soon after completing my initial training, I deployed.

So the whirlwind that was my life was about to change. I was about to leave my kids and deploy to war I pretty much knew nothing about. It was terrifying at the time, but in hindsight, it was an amazing, life-changing event.

My main job there was to document what the Nato forces were doing. This allowed me to travel around and take pictures, write articles, shoot videos and create magazine layouts. Ultimately, it was the dream job I never knew I wanted. I met amazing people, both local citizens and Soldiers. I walked in cities that were devastated by hate, but yet saw people carrying on. I saw the natural beauty of the country through its wounds. I saw hope in the eyes of people who had endured the unimaginable. I witnessed Soldiers working side by side in effort to make a difference. I made friends for life.

My time there gave me so many memories (that will turn into several future posts I am sure), and it’s where I found myself again. I discovered my passion through telling others’ stories. I found a purpose in making each featured Soldier realize they were making a difference. I felt emptiness in hearing the horrors of war. I gained appreciation for life when I saw the struggles of another culture. I learned what true kindness felt like. Through it all, I had time to step back from the hectic pace of my life and really see what was important. I was able to evaluate what I was, what I wanted, and who I wanted to be. It was there on Tuzla base, I decided I wanted to live with passion. I didn’t want to just merely exist anymore, letting my days slip through my fingers. I wanted each day to count.

It took a number of years for this self discovery to really develop (and of course it is still in progress), but Bosnia is where it started. I think of how ironic it is that I had to go across the globe to find the true me. Perhaps opening my eyes beyond my own life was the awakening I needed. Either way, those ‘good old days’ of war gave me life.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 In response to the Daily Prompt ~ Salad Days.

What Nature Means to Me


IMG_0481Nature is like therapy to me…only cheaper and more effective. After being outside for only a few minutes, I can literally feel stress loosen its hold on me. It is as if the fresh air possesses some magical elixir that calms my spirit and eases my mind.

Regardless of season, the effect is the same, and I think I have figured out why. I look at nature as the source of all things. Nature gives us food, water, air and supplies. Its variety is endless and ever so tolerate of the strains we place on it. To me, nature is also my window to God. When I look at the elegance of a sunset or the artistry in a canyon, I am always amazed. With that awe comes a thankfulness and awareness that there is more out there than me and my immediate problems. And with that, I find peace.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Does nature have a similar effect on you? If so, write about it and link it to the Nature Chills Challenge.