10 December 2014

Pivotal Life Choices

One of the benefits of getting older is the ability to look back on your life with a certain understanding and perspective about how the different choices you made delivered you right to where you sit at this exact moment. As you're reading this - as I'm writing this - a certain set of things had to happen in a very specific order to bring my words to your face. Which is my rather crude way of saying everything happens for a reason.

Not to go all "hippy" on your or anything....

Pivotal Life Choices - In Photos.

But I DO believe there is a reason for everything, even if you don't understand it at the time. In a recent post about friendship, I made the argument that sometimes you need the gift of time to realize someone's value in your life. Some are friends for a reason, some are friends for a season, and some are friends for a lifetime. You won’t always know why you knew someone until long after you don’t talk anymore, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable to your life.

Who you allow in your life is a choice. You make choices every day which ultimately determine the course of your life. An example: 

A little over four years ago I attended my first run with the Seattle Anti-Freeze Runners. At 6 miles through Madison Park, it was the longest run of my life. But with new friends to keep me company along the way, the run went by fast (not me, I was NOT fast). Before I knew it I was leading our weekly Tuesday Trot, and went on to co-found the Thursday Beer Run, which I still lead today.

I don't know if I've said enough how much joining run group has changed my life for the better. It's now my main source of motivation, challenge, friendship and FUN. We run beer miles, attend silly parties in ridiculous costumes, and are there for each other in times of need. I've helped run-group friends move, watched their dogs, laughed with them, cried with them, dated them, and stayed friends with them after the whole dating thing didn't work out.

Ultimately, we've formed a coalition of adventurers taking a proactive approach to be our best selves. I like people who take an active role in their own happiness.

Run group May 18, 2012. We miss you Stas.

Joining run group was a choice which proved pivotal to who I am today. And since this is my blog and I make the rules I'm going to go ahead and decide you get THREE PIVOTAL CHOICES in your life. These can evolve as you get older, or be 'major' enough to stand the test of time. The exercise of identifying these choices is cathartic, and I would argue critical to recognizing the role you play in your own life. Many people just "experience" life insofar as it's something that happens to them. Don't be those people. Don't let life happen to you.

I challenge you to identify YOUR three pivotal choices, and share them if you so choose. You're about to start a new year - 2015 - and it's helpful to take a look back to move forward. If you want to know where you're going, you need to know where you came from.

It would be unfair for me to ask you to do this without doing it myself. So in the spirit of a digital version of I'll show you mine if you show me yours, here are mine:
  1. Sticking with band. I was going to quit the clarinet for good after having a less-than-supportive music teacher in middle school (see photo above from 6th grade). Then, the Bozeman High Marching Band was selected to march in the Parade of Roses in 1999 - the year I would be a freshman. The high school band director did a heavy recruitment campaign, and I joined. "I'll just do it for one year," I told myself. But then I fell in love with band and the people who love band. I not only stuck with marching band, becoming the Drum Major my junior and senior year, but I threw myself into music. My last two years of high school 4 of my 8 classes were music performance. I based my choice to attend the University of Washington in large part due to it's stellar marching band program (a runner-up in this "pivotal choices" exercise). Joining band my freshman year of high school ultimately resulted in me ending up in Seattle.

  2. Joining run group. I explained this above, but to add some extra color which feeds into my third point.... My first run was in 2010, right as I was coming out of a big post-breakup transition period during which I lost 20lbs and made fitness a much bigger part of my life (I wasn't always this crazy-active person - hard to believe I know). I met a nice guy on that first run, we became friends, and then we dated for over a year. But it didn't work out, and it took me longer than I expected to recover (from the cumulative gravity of both-breakups no doubt). During my post-breakup quarter-life-crisis, I made very real plans to move to Boulder, Colorado. Allison and I did a recon visit, I made a follow-up visit for final interviews, and I was all set to relocate. Only,

  3. I didn't move to Boulder. I turned down a job offer there and instead chose a life in Seattle. I landed in Seattle for college, but felt like staying here was never a conscious choice. By NOT moving to Boulder and choosing Seattle, I became, what I hope will be, a Pacific Northwesterner for life. During that same time I was introduced to backcountry skiing and learned to embrace the rain and clouds, knowing it meant snow in zee mountains. To further my ties here, I re-embraced run group and joined the Board of my college marching band alumni association. You see, it's all related.
Calling out these choices so publicly only makes me think of so many more I could have listed, but they just didn't quite have the muster. That's the fun of looking back on your life with the perspective of time. What if I hadn't gone on that trip or taken that job or let that guy kiss me? Would my life be completely different? Probably.

Or maybe not. I very well could have ended up sitting here writing this for you to sit there and read. We'll never know. No matter what choices you make in life, you'll always wonder about the road not-traveled. That unknown challenges you to make the most of your choices. And that's what makes life so fun.


Shanon said...

Ok, you showed me yours, so I will show you mine!

(Before I start, loved this post and loved learning a little bit more about your past and the things you feel have shaped your life! And yeah for choosing Seattle!)

1. Going to college in the city

I had wanted to go to somewhere smaller town for college, much like where I grew up. A trip to visit UW overnight changed my mind however. I fell in love with the place. Choosing to go to college in the "big city" was such a great and positive step for me. It got me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to cultures and people that I had not seen in my smaller town growing up. It also taught me that I could go out of my comfort zone and that I was adventurous. It also helped reinforce my idea that the world is not a scary place if it is unknown, it is just something you haven't experienced yet.

2. Getting my heart broken

I joked through college that I was the perpetually single girl. I dated here and there but never anything serious. Then I met him and fell head over heels... Cue the horror movie music. I let the initial emotion blind me to the fact that this was not a healthy person to be involved with. Needless to say, it ended up with me crying my eyes out while sitting on the hallway floor with my roommate of the time. But I learned and oh, the things I learned. I learned to listen to my little inner voice. She is right about a lot of things. I learned that I am worthy of respect and love. I learned that I can survive heartbreak and am thus, stronger than I thought I was. I learned that waiting for the right one may take some waiting but it was worth it, and now I am married to someone amazing.

3. Joining an online discussion board

When I was going through some pretty major life changes, I joined an online discussion group for people who were going through something similar. Through this group, I found my ninjas. These connections started online have led to what I believe to be life-long friendships with people literally all around the world. (Australia, Abu Dhabi, Bulgaria, England) These friends have been there for me through thick and thin and have taught me to be a stronger, more empathetic, more caring and more understanding person. They challenge me, they support me, they make me laugh.

There you have it!

*Pivotal life moment runner-up -- Picking up a reporters notebook

Didn't make my top 3 since I am no longer a reporter, but that notebook helped me overcome my more naturally quiet nature and meet some really incredible people, hear thousands of stories and really grow as a person.

Cori B said...

Your comment box didn't like my text submission (it was too long?), so I revived my blog to answer your challenge.

Challenge accepted