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.

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For the Daily Prompt ~ Envelope Pushers

Talking to Myself, If Only I Could Listen


If I had the opportunity to send a message to anyone, I’d talk to my younger self. I am just not sure if I would listen…or, if I should.

The younger me has made a number of mistakes. Some of these bad choices date back to my early teens and 20s while others were just as fresh as yesterday. I would tell myself to avoid the men who had bad intentions. “They will only break your heart.”  I would recommend a more regular approach to health and fitness. “If you don’t take care of yourself now, you will struggle with your weight the rest of your life.” There would be a list of recommended books. “Read all that you can. There is so many amazing stories out there.”  I would urge myself to be more confident over the years. “Hold your head high, speak with authority and walk with pride. You are more wonderful than you realize and will turn out just fine.” The younger me would know who to not lose contact with and who to avoid altogether. “Call her more often. She will be one of your closest allies. Avoid him. He will do nothing but crush your soul.” This message would also lay out all the missed opportunities to travel. “While you are living in Germany, you really must see more of Europe. You won’t have this chance later.” It would tell me to stay strong and never forget the true me.  “You should not have to lose yourself to make him happy. He should love you for who you are, not who he wants you to be.” 


If I could send myself this message, things could have been different. I would have avoided pain, heartbreak, struggle, evil and ignorance. Life would have been better. It very well, may have been pretty damn perfect.

The days pass like the wind at times though and it is hard to separate the paths I took from my journey. If I chose different paths in my younger years, would I be a different person today? Should I be a different person? That is a tough question. Since I cannot change the past by sending this message to my younger self, I have to assume this is how things were meant to be. No, I don’t believe I was meant to be punched in the face by a man and have my teeth broken. But, I truly believe that some of my bad choices have put me in situations where I should not have been. I took that wrong turn, learned from it, and then tried to find a new path, still leading to the same original destination. Some of my paths have been long detours that were so heart-wrenching I questioned life. While others were simply beautiful, unforgettable trails that I could have never dreamt of myself. 

I imagine that is part of the appeal of life. You cannot have the ups without the downs. If we could, the ups would not be so passionate. They would just be another good day-average and expected. So as much as I want to tell my younger self to avoid so many things, my message will remain unsent. I cannot, and do not dare to change my journey. For without my journey, I just would not be me.

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/make-it-count/
This post was from a prompt at The Daily Post:


You’ve been given the opportunity to send one message to one person you
wouldn’t normally have access to (for example the President. Kim Kardashian.
A coffee grower in Ethiopia). Who’s the person you choose, and what’s the
message?

A Little Red Sports Car for a Kiss


My plan of a midweek happy hour drink and meal turned into driving a sexy little red sports car with a stranger, and it only cost me a kiss.

After a particularly long week (see previous blog), I decided to go out for Wednesday happy hour. As I sat at the bar enjoying my meal and drink, I read the book that I have been carrying around for over a month. It was nice to unwind, to read.

After finishing my book, I started chatting up some other bar patrons. There was banter about relationships, movies, and even cars. One of the bar customers happened to work at one of the local car dealerships. We chatted about the different models and how I was less than impressed with one of his pushy sales people. On my last visit to his business, his employee quickly ignored my request for information on three different model cars as soon as I stated the amount I wanted to pay. Perhaps I could only afford the less expensive model, but as someone who worked in sales for several years, I know there is always a possibility of up selling a better model if a customer expresses some interest in it. Nope. This salesman had no time to explain why I would want to pay more for the sports car over the compact sedan. He just needed to sell the car, and do it today. That was clear when he said, “I bet I can get you into [the compact] today.” After stating a number of times that I was in the research phase of my car search, I simply replied, “I do not think you will, especially after saying that.”

Shortly after telling the dealership guy about this experience, he states, “Well, would you like to go drive it?” My immediate thought was…um, it is 9:45 p.m, yeah right. But, my sense of opportunity and adventure overruled my mouth and I energetically replied, “Of course I do! Seriously?”

So here it is, right before 10 p.m. on a random Wednesday night and I am following a bar guy to the dealership around the corner. (No, I was not so naïve to get into a stranger’s car.) We get to the shop, he walks in and gets keys, and I start cruising in this sexy red sports car. It was amazing! The roar of the engine, the feel of shifting gears (yes, I am girl who can drive a manual transmission), and the pure spontaneity of the experience was nothing short of exhilarating.

Of course, as I am enjoying my ride, he makes his sales pitch…but it was not about the car. He paints a picture of how much fun it would be to drive this car down to the beach together so we can spend the weekend together on his boat. Sure yeah, that sounds like a wonderful offer, except for one factor. He is married. (Ironically, this is the second married man to offer me an unprovoked boat weekend this month. Apparently, I must appear to be mistress potential, come off too friendly… and single men do not seem to have boats.) I mention the whole marriage factor and he simply states that it is not an issue for him. Well, it is for me. (Call me selfish and old fashioned, but I want to be a guy’s one and only – not the dish on the side.) I am here just to drive the car, plain and simple.

Nothing in life is that simple though typically. Everything comes with a cost. When we choose to eat that huge cheesecake, the cost is calories, and a lot of them. When we choose to ignore our problems, the issues generally still exist or even get bigger. When we take a chance with love, we risk a broken heart. It is the basic law of consequences. Whatever we choose in life has a price. The question is – can we afford to pay it or do we realize the cost at the time of those decisions?

I’ve paid a lot of fees for my chosen actions over the years. Some have been worth the risk and I would do them again. Like the time I decided to join the Army Reserve – that was a life-changing decision. The cost of that decision has been time away from my family, challenging experiences in foreign countries and a lot of pressure to produce results. On the other hand, those costs have also shaped who I am today. I am a much stronger person, both mentally and physically. I have seen Serbian Orthodox churches, eaten authentic foods from different cultures, and was baptized by a Polish canon in a Sadam Hussein palace pool. Witnessing such vast cultures has made me able to truly appreciate what I have. I have been honored to meet and remain friends with some of the most loyal and honorable people I could ever imagine.

However, the decision to step in front of the large paper-covered hoop on the football field did not turn out so well. As a high school cheerleader, we always made painted signs for the football team to bust through at the beginning of the game and at half time. Well, one particular half time, the team chose not to go through the hoop. We all just stood there for a second soaking in the offense, and I chose to start to walk off the field…right in front of the hoop. This was at the same time, that a few of the players either changed their minds or saw an opportunity to crash though the hoop that maybe they never had before since they were in the back of the line. Both of our decisions collided and ended up with me getting stampeded like a Running of the Bulls participant. All I saw were some feet and then the ground. It was all funny in the end and no one was seriously injured. I had cleat marks on my uniform skirt, a few bruises and several years later, an America’s Funniest Home Videos spot light (which sadly, I could never get a copy of).

Either way, consequences surround us in our daily lives. How we deal with the consequences is what makes us who we are I suppose. Do we learn from the experience? Do we dwell on it and become bitter? Do we embrace it as a pivotal moment in our lives or just an experience we had to go through? Or, do each of our choices support the life we want to build, the person we are and the goals we are trying to achieve? I suppose that is for each person to decide.

I can tell you that knew the risk and the possible intent as I got into that little red car, but figured I can handle this. He will make a pitch, I can kindly decline and I will drive a sexy sports car. I can handle this. I’ve been through bigger dangers before.

So as I pulled the car back into the dealership, I quickly said my thanks (which included me jumping up and down like an excited schoolgirl from the thrill of the car), and gave him swift hug and a peck on the cheek. I am sure that was not exactly what he had hoped, but, that was the price I was willing to pay.

Maybe one day, a single man with a boat can actually ask me out. Maybe one day, I will get a copy of my humorous trampling on video. And maybe, just maybe, I will get that little red car when I am ready to buy.