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Memoirs

Why I’m Surprised (but Grateful)

Spanish villas overlook the Mediterranean Sea at La Herradura Southern Spain. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Here I am, retired and nowhere near where I expected to be at this stage of my life. What happened to those lofty dreams of years ago when I pictured myself in a luxurious mansion sipping cocktails by a pool overlooking the Mediterranean? I guess I killed them. I didn’t choose to kill them. I killed them with my choices.

Choice #1: Going to college instead of joining the Navy. The Navy appealed to me as a high school senior because it promised world travel with a good salary and future retirement benefits. I didn’t want to leave my boyfriend, so I went to college. I also didn’t believe I could make it through basic training because I am basically a wuss when it comes to physical activities. I am not athletic in the least.

Choice #2: I followed my heart while in college. I married before I graduated, and he was young. He had to find a good job and never went to college himself. He did work hard providing for me and our eventual kids, though. He said he wouldn’t change a thing, but sometimes I think he would have been better off waiting. I would have been, too.

Choice #3: Not finishing my pre-med program. I didn’t take Chemistry or Physics in high school because I was afraid of failure, and my first Chemistry class was a disaster. I learned nothing because the teacher wasn’t a good one. I barely passed the second semester under the other teacher, so I decided I would never be able to pass Organic chemistry. I also have a phobia of needles, which people say you get over, but I hate fainting in class (which I did three times).

Choice #4: Not taking Chemistry and Physics in high school. I was scared of the teachers and failure.

Choice #5: Letting fear control my decisions.

I did make other choices affecting my life’s journey, and I’m not saying I regret making easier choices, but I am in a different place than I expected to be. But isn’t that what God is all about? Taking us on new and unexpected journeys? He has blessed me with a loving husband, two beautiful children and their spouses, and three wonderful grandchildren.

My cup is full, although my mansion is a 1961 wood frame three-bedroom home and I might sip coffee or wine on my deck or front porch. Who needs a mansion on the Mediterranean anyway? I have one “just over the hilltop in that bright land where we’ll never grow old” (old church hymn) anyway!

What about you? Have you landed where you least expected? I’d love to hear from you!

XOXO

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AT HOME MONDAY: Reflections on failure. . .

. . .and the 2013 FOLK Journal/Blog Challenge number 3!

At what point in your life have you experienced a successful failure? What are some things you have done but previously thought you could never do?


From the time I was ten years old and began writing stories in spiral notebooks, I thought I wanted to be a writer.  I had discovered the book Harriet the Spy and I so identified with Harriet that I, too, began writing my observations of the world along with my deepest feelings and thoughts in a diary.
Mine was green (image from here)

  In high school I joined the school newspaper staff and became newspaper editor my senior year.  When I went off to college I chose journalism as my major.  That’s when I began to question my choice of careers.  I soon found that I wasn’t cut out to be an aggressive news reporter.  I was too shy to approach people I didn’t know, and my part-time job would not allow me to attend all the school events that I was supposed to report on, and when I finally was able to do some writing, my professor hacked my story to bits.  Reporters were also expected to take photographs, but I couldn’t quite get the hang of those bulky news cameras.  I mean, what in the heck is an F Stop?  And the darkroom scared me.  
Like the one I used (image from here)

So I failed at being a journalist.  I had no choice but to change my major.

In the meantime my biology teacher was making science come alive.  I enjoyed my biology class much more than I would have ever imagined because she was such a bubbly, enthusiastic, and inspiring teacher.  She awakened something in me, and I decided to change my major to pre-medicine.  I decided I wanted to be a doctor.

But soon that plan was derailed when I failed chemistry.  Feeling like a total failure, I “fell back” on teaching.  So many of my pre-med classmates had looked down their noses at aspiring teachers and nurses.  Little did I know that education was the field I should have been in all along. Little did those pre-med students know that teaching is the most noble of ALL professions! And I experienced immediate success, even accolades by professors who saw my potential before I graduated.  The high school principal who hired me for my first teaching assignment told me that he had never seen a student teacher do as well as I did.  He repeated that same thing to me last year when I attended his retirement party.  I was destined to be a teacher!  

And here I am, thirty years later, my teaching career behind me, thousands of students later, looking back on a successful career which wouldn’t have been possible without those first few failures.  How do I know it was successful?  Because of the hundreds of former students who are responsible, contributing members of society and still keep in touch.  (A great invention, that Facebook!) And what about my writing career?  Once I gave myself completely over to teaching and raising my family, the Lord allowed me to publish two books, a dream come true!  And today I am enjoying a new kind of writing–blogging!  

So what have I done I never thought I could do?  Teach for thirty years, raise two wonderful children, be married for 33 years, and have my writing published.  As Robert F. Kennedy said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”  I’m living proof!

XOXO