Within our dreams and aspirations we find our opportunities. ~Sue Ebaugh
One of my favorite bloggers is the Nester. I stumbled upon her site years ago, when we’d just bought our house in Oregon and I was searching for cute DIY decorating ideas. If you haven’t checked her blog out, you MUST. Like now. Although I give you fair warning: you will probably start covering chairs, painting furniture, making curtains out of tablecloths or hanging mirrors glued to poster-board. It’s just how the creative process rolls when you start reading all her wacko-crazy-genius ideas.
One of the things I absolutely love about her blog is that she’s not afraid to take a risk. In fact, I think she did an entire series on being risky. Risky with the home (paint my wall that color?!), risky with friends (go on a weekend away with gals I’ve never met?!), risky with business (she makes wreaths out of plastic spoons for goodness sake) and risky with family (just today she shared that her son is going on a 21-day trip to another country with people she’s never met!). Now, to some people, those things may not be risks at all. To her, they’re taking a jump from what is comfortable to what might fail and seeing what happens along the way. Not every risk turns out amazing… But if you read her blog you know it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
I shared last week that I’m trying to live more in the present and not so much for what might never happen. Then over the weekend we went to Long Island to visit a couple of my college friends which really got me thinking. Meeting them was one of the biggest risks I ever took… And it changed my life forever.
My sophomore year of college was probably one of the most stressful years of my life at the time. I was swimming for Washington State University on a scholarship, for a coach who could make all of us girls swim as fast as the wind but treated us like we were the scum of the earth. I was one of just a few who wasn’t going to therapy to deal with his antics… And not because I didn’t need it, but because I couldn’t bear to think about it all for even a moment longer than I had to. When practice was over, I tried to put it all out of my mind, even though that never really worked very well. I swam best times my sophomore year, qualifying for NCAA’s and traveling to Texas for the big meet. When I got back, half our team had quit and the coach fired. I remember wondering…
What am I supposed to do?!
I thought to myself, I never thought this would happen. I never intended to transfer to another school when I signed with WSU. I’ve met such good friends. I can’t start the recruiting process all over again…
But then another thought gripped my mind even harder.
I can’t stay here. There aren’t even enough girls on this team to be considered a team! We won’t even be recognized by the NCAA unless we can heavily recruit. And who knows what kind of coach will come in and what the style will be like. It was hard before… But at least I swam fast. I don’t think I can stay here. Oh my gosh I can’t stay here.
I remember sitting in my dorm room with my roommate and teammate crying, trying to process what the heck a 20 year old girl was supposed to do.
So I took a risk. I began contacting other schools, even at the end of the year when many scholarships were already accounted for. I went on recruiting trips so I could really understand what the schools were like and what my new teammates would be like. I prayed. I talked with my pastor. I wore my mama’s ear out all in the name of ‘processing’. 🙂 And in the end, I decided to go to Florida State– clear across the country! You can’t get much further away from Washington then Florida, eh?!
The two years I spent at FSU were monumental in my personal life. Sure, I swam well and made the NCAA meet again and got my bachelor’s in a field I love, but it was the friendships that were cultivated that I look back on and think “I almost missed out on THIS?!” It was worth the risk. So worth the risk.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become adverse to taking risks. I know, I know, I just moved to New Jersey and I know that was a risk. I’m praying I take hold of my time here. But what about the other things? The things that later make us say “I almost missed out on THIS?!” It doesn’t have to be life changing. It can be a simple recipe (although recipes can be life changing, can’t they?!) that you’ve been meaning to try. Yes, it might taste horrible. But it might not! It might make you do a happy dance in the middle of your kitchen and cause you to randomly send the recipe to someone (aka Krista). It might be absolutely wonderful.
As our little girls played together and we caught up on life over burgers and beers, it was like no time had passed at all. Wheels was still his fantastic sarcastic self, Paulus business savvy as ever, and me, well, I was in all my weirdness glory pretending the grape lattice was a castle and finding sticks with our girls. It was as if I’d known Wheels’ wife forever– even though I’d first met her at their wedding. And as we drove home through the horrendous traffic that ensued (it wouldn’t be NJ without it!) we were all so full of joy. I am so glad I didn’t miss out on them. Nine years later, all married with families or families to come one day, we can shoot the breeze like not one minute has passed us by. The only thing that could have made it better was if Amy Lo were there too (and Katie B., Leroy, Emma, Justin… The list could go on forever, really!)!
It’s risky business to move, quit a job, go back to school, make a new friend.
It could turn into an epic failure.
It could turn into a beautiful friendship. Nine years later even! 🙂
It could turn this old, stained, free kids chair….
Into THIS! I really do think Maya said “and I was missing out on THIS?!” Haha.
I think the Nester would be oh so proud. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s pretty beautiful! 🙂
I’m not trying to pat myself on the back here. Really. I know how risky it is to really want something and go after it. Right?! I know! I’ve been there so. many. times. As you go through your day today, I encourage you to enter into this risky business thing. It’s scary. It’s nerve wracking. It could change your life. Or your next meal! It could teach you something you never knew about yourself even. Or, maybe, it might just change a piece of furniture in your home (haha!).
Thank you for going alongside me on this journey. My neighbor canceled for dinner this week– so now (after much deliberation in my mind, thinking maybe I got off the hook) I must risk getting rejected again and reschedule. Aaaaaah! Thanks for reading.