Monday, June 23, 2008

Stepping up

We all have opportunities to step up in life, but how many of us truly take them? I know some folks with grown children and yet they still blame their personal failures on their parents.

I don't know what motivates others, but I can say with a certainty that I took responsibility for myself, failures and successes early on. When I decided to marry a virtual stranger to the family and move 600 plus miles away, I didn't understand my parents' lack of warmth to the idea. But after I'd been married a few weeks, I had a glimmer of why they'd had reservations. Living so far from home forced me to stand on my own untried feet. It forced me to learn how to live and grow with another person, that, as it turned out, had different ideas than mine. Imagine that!

That experience came in good stead when I decided to change careers. Everything was all set in our lives, with no disturbing ripples at all, except that I needed to write instead of pursue a further career in science. I wanted more time to dig into my writing, and the day job took too much out of me. I reasoned that my nest egg in my retirement fund was enough to supplement our income for the next two years while I tried on this new career. You may well imagine that my husband had strong feelings about money coming out of savings when we were still in our working years.

So we made other adjustments, and for better or worse, I leaped into the business of writing. Sure I made mistakes along the way, but I also had triumphs.

To me, that's the greater story, that accepting responsibility for whatever happens. What made me dig deep and go for it? I can't say whether it was genetic or environmental. Maybe it was a combination of both.

My philosophy is that life is too short to always put your wants last. I say, take ownership of your decisions. Be mindful of the needs, wants, and opinions of others, but give yourself a shot at your dreams.

Maggie Toussaint
In For a Penny, out now!

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