Lucky Number 13

June 2006, I took a chance.

Thirteen years ago I resigned from my teaching position, packed up what I owned, shut the door on a family farm home full of history and memories, turned my back on the only town I ever really knew and headed West to an unknown city, with no job, very little financial stability, and an unclear vision.

Thirteen years ago I was a little broken.  A little lost on a path I wasn’t interested in being on.  I unintentionally hurt folks around me, although the hurt was inevitable. And it certainly wasn’t in my life plan to uproot what I had planted and walk away for something new.

What I didn’t do was run away, contrary to what some may believe.  Someone said to me once that my move from “home” was an escape.  A run FROM my life.  At the time, I probably agreed as my mind had yet to comprehend my actions.

But, if asked today, my answer would be no.  I didn’t run from my life…

I ran to find it.

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I left behind what was comfortable and consistent to explore my place in this inconsistent world.  I craved the freedom to make decisions based on my interests, beliefs, wants and desires.

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I didn’t know what I was looking for, I just knew what I had created,

based on learned behaviors and social expectations,

was not what I wanted for myself.

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While that life wasn’t wrong, it also wasn’t right.  For all involved.  So, I left for the unknown

…and what I found was me.

The Serenity Prayer was my anchor during this period of growth and challenge.  Shortly before my move, I tattooed the symbol for courage on my right foot.  Cliche as you may, I wanted to symbolize that pivotal moment in my life to serve as a reminder that I had the courage to put the right foot forward.

Omaha has provided me more then I could ever have imagined.  Omaha got me out of the box I was raised in and provided me the opportunity to find my own independence and the ability to make decisions that were for me and NOT as a result of the expectations of others.

In the last 13 years, I have grown personally and professionally and accomplished things I didn’t even know existed, let alone knew I was capable of.  From fighting my way through two Master’s degrees, running my first half marathon, finding my place in the fitness industry and proving my worth as a Master Trainer for a national group exercise organization.  I found a passion in higher education that has allowed me the opportunity to impact thousands of students and that has afforded me the luxury to travel and explore so many of our great State’s.  I have met so many incredible individuals, many who continue to serve as professional resources for me, and many who have turned into friends I couldn’t imagine life without.  I met my husband who has taught me more about finding the joy and humor in situations and letting go of my predetermined expectations.  He grounds me, trusts me, builds me up, loves me unconditionally, and respects my independence and boundaries.  I gained a bonus kid who has taught me more about kindness with his big heart and how to have more of a go-with-the-flow mentality.  I have failed miserably to only pick myself back up and moved forward.  I have let others disappoint me, to only turn around and find my voice to initiate real, raw, and hard conversations.  I allowed emotions to sit deep and I also learned to set boundaries.

In thirteen years I set BIG and scary goals, and I fought for them silently, while others I publicized loud and proud.  Each goal significant to my journey.  Each goal a personal experience meant for me.  And in thirteen years I also allowed myself to enjoy the journey, forget the goals, and let life develop as it will.

Someone once said “if I didn’t know you, I’d really dislike you” in response to my over-achieving tendencies.   I am not sure I will ever forget that statement, because in some ways I have used that as fuel to always remind me I CAN do all the things.  Because, why not?  That statement also humbled (humbles) me and is a reminder that not every milestone achieved or experience lived has to be shared with the world.

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Bottom line?

What the last 13 years have taught me is that hard decisions can often make room for growth opportunity beyond the capacity of your current mind.

You won’t understand how BIG the world is or how many opportunities await you if you don’t get out of the box you were raised in and allow yourself to unlearn behaviors and ideas that you were taught.

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Re-read that.  I’ll wait.

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It’s OK to think differently.

It’s OK to seek more.

It’s OK to do things that are the opposite of how you were raised.

It’s OK to FIND YOU!

Thirteen years and I am finally comfortable saying Omaha, Nebraska is my home.  Omaha has provided growth, opportunity, failure, love, friendships, risks, stability, adventure.

Thirteen years in Omaha has provided me…

ME.

…beer loving, Harley riding, fitness freak, education junkie, concert goin’, driven, focused, determined to do and be all that brings me joy… badass female.

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My challenge for you?

Seek MORE.

What are you going to look back on at the end of your time on this earth and feel nothing but PRIDE and JOY over?  What fulfills you?  Are you doing it?  Are you seeking it out?  Are you doing things for YOU and NOT what society has told you, or maybe even how you were raised?  Are you following/doing/being because that’s what you feel connected to, or are you following/doing/being because it’s what you’ve been convinced/told/taught that it’s the only way?   What are you doing for you? And are you SURE it’s for YOU?  Do some soul searching, friends.  It’s a tough journey to go on, but self-awareness can bring much clarity.

Just promise me this… Don’t get to the end of your rope and wish you had done something more.  Go for it.  Today is your day.

Cheers!

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