The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made

Mistake

Mistake

I graduated high school when I was 17 years old. Seventeen going on sixty.

I had always been near the top (not at, but near) of my class and when I graduated, had a scholarship waiting for me at the local college. I attended and did great in my classes that fall. At first. Toward the end of the semester, I slipped into a dark depression and stayed there for some time. Though I started strong that first semester, I flunked out. I stopped going to class. I skipped finals. I left the house only to sit in the college parking lot, giving the appearance I had attended class. I didn’t register for a second semester, but kept going to my choir classes as if I had. Music was the only thing I looked forward to. It was the only thing I could do without trying.

I was tired of trying.

Without turning this post into a therapy session, I’ll let you know that first college semester took a long time to recover from. I lost my scholarships, lost the respect of my professors, and lost myself in the process. I felt as though I had thrown the rest of my life away, and there was no real future.

Eventually, I went back to school and changed my major. When I started college, I loved to do two things: write, and teach. In order to do both at the level I wanted, however, I would have had to go to school for far longer than I was willing – or thought I could afford to.

So I took the easy way out. I changed from English Ed to Business.

It took me too many years of going part time and forcing myself to follow through, but eventually I graduated with an Associate’s degree. It wasn’t anywhere close to what I was passionate about or wanted to do. But I knew it was something I’d be able to do well.

And I did do well. I held clerical administrative positions my entire career in “corporate America.” I completed tasks I was assigned, and even received a few awards for my work. But I went home every night and woke up every morning feeling completely unfulfilled. I started to care less and less about my work. I wasn’t doing this because I wanted to. I was doing it because I had to.

After all, I screwed up early on in life, and this was the career I was destined for.

But do you know what? Flunking my first semester of college wasn’t my biggest mistake.

My biggest mistake was thinking that was my biggest mistake. My biggest mistake was not going after what I wanted to pursue.

I figured it was too late for me, and that having an “A.A.” after my name destined me as the foundation of any totem pole for the remainder of my life. I thought I was required to settle in my work, and never advance to what I dreamt of doing once upon a time.

That was my biggest mistake.

It’s not my career (yet…), but guess what I’m doing? I’m writing and teaching. I’m speaking into the lives of others at every opportunity. I’m writing when I’m inspired to share something. I’m jotting notes about my days and the experiences I have so I can share them with others. I’m doing these things because I started to believe I could. I gave up on giving up, and I’m doing what I love to do. This is the only life I get, and I don’t want to spend it wishing I could have done something different.

The letters I carry after my name don’t mean much to anyone. It’s not entirely impressive to too many people that I have an Associate of Arts degree in business management. It serves an incredible purpose in reminding me, however, that I sold myself short.

It took me eight years, start-to-finish, to get a degree I never wanted. In a field I never wanted to be in, let alone retire from. But I thought it was my only (easiest) choice.

And that, friends, was a big mistake.

I was created to be, do, and live more than any test or degree tried to determine for me.

Today, I’m a writer. I’ve written for our newspaper, and been featured on other blogs, magazines, and websites. I have a handful of loyal people who repeatedly come back to read what I share. I have invitations to speak – and to teach. I work for a man who writes and teaches for a living. He is a dear mentor to me, and I’m soaking up as much of his knowledge as I can.

Today I do what I love and I’m able to do it because I chose to let my mistake be just that: a mistake. Not a determining factor, not a sentence, not a curse. A mistake.

Today, I do what I love because I know I’m capable of it.

And you are, too. Don’t wear your mistakes as chains. Carry the scars, but realize there’s new skin over those marks. You can have a new beginning to pursue your old dreams.

Working From Home: The Best & Worst of Both Worlds

When I became pregnant with Little Miss, I agonized over ways I could quit my job to stay home with her. The truth is, it wasn’t affordable. We were in debt up to our ears, and needed my income (and then some) to make sure our monthly expenses were covered. For four years I prayed nightly for the opportunity to work from home.

When I was pregnant with Little Man, I had a Divine appointment of sorts, that led me to working part-time, from home, for some friends of ours. The four years from the first utterance of my plea to stay home had given us time to significantly pay down debt, and live on less. Even though that job didn’t pan out long-term, God had already set a plan in motion. I’ve been working from home for 15 months now, and He has absolutely been faithful in all the details.

It is something I wanted. It is something I still want. It is something I thank God for everyday.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

WORKING

There are many times I, and others, have fallen prey to the “I work part time, from home. I now have a lot of extra time.” mentality. The truth is, I have no extra time at all. Working from home doesn’t allow for set times of each day to be and stay focused on work. There are meals to cook. Groceries to buy. Rooms to clean. Toilets to scrub. Laundry to wash. Dry. Fold. Put away. (Shudder) There are kids to feed. They want to be played with.To be held. To snuggle. They want to throw blocks in my face and drool on my one exposed area of skin. They want to play games and read books and wrestle and help. Lord, they want to “help” with everything.

I have friends who assume, as I probably would if I didn’t know better, that I can just uproot and meet for coffee or lunch or shopping trips. After all, if I can make time in my day for a dentist appointment, I obviously have the same flexibility for everything else everyone else wants to do. I only work part-time after all. It’s not like I’m in an office 8-5 every day.

So what’s the big deal?

I’m only working part time. But it takes me twice as long to get the work done some days. I work part of this hour, part of that hour, part of the kids’ nap times, part of my breakfast, part of the evening, part of bed time… There are a lot of parts to working part-time.

I don’t remember the last time I finished a cup of home-brewed coffee while it was still hot. Sometimes on the weekend, Hubs will get us a special latte and he’ll look at me with minor disgust when mine is sucked dry in 10 minutes. I don’t get to do the whole “savor the flavor” thing anymore. I chug my coffee. I’ve lost half my taste buds as a result.

I’ve answered conference calls while simultaneously wiping the post-nasty-duty bottom of my son. I’ve missed door buzzes from the UPS man or the FEDEx guy, because my phone is just out of arm’s reach and I can’t leave Mr. Adventure on the changing table to answer it.

I’ve run the dishwasher with seven things in it, because five of those seven were the only bottles we have, and they were all dirty at the same time. I’ve run the dishwasher twice in one day because I had that many dishes I’d allowed to pile up next to the sink.

I’ve sat in the shower and cried because it was the only thirty seconds I have to myself in a day. If I don’t have a child on me, I’m in a webinar, or a web meeting, or on a joint call. Even this extrovert needs her space once in a while.

I’ve looked at the clock and thought, “HOW IS IT ALREADY TIME FOR DINNER?!” and all of the meat is still in the freezer and no one wants tuna. Again.

Today, my beloved son has cried nearly incessantly. It doesn’t matter that I’m trying to write sales copy that was due a week ago. He wants his mama, and he hates my keyboard and the attention it requires of me.

No, it isn’t easy. Not by a long shot. It isn’t glamorous by any means. I can spend all the time in the world getting ready for my day with hair and makeup and perky business clothes. By dinner time, I’m wearing meal remnants of three people, I’ve got hair falling out or into various areas not defined by the elastic ponytail band, I’ve got Tammy Faye Baker mascara happening, either because I’m crying, or children are crying on my face.

Not every day is like this. Thank the Lord above. Working from home, however, can really be the worst of both worlds. Is it worth it? Absolutely. I have an opportunity to spend precious time with my kids, and exercise my creative side from the comfort of my home. I love my children more than anything. I also happen to love the work I’m doing more than I’ve ever loved a job before. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be, and exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Therefore, I really have the best of both the working mom and the stay at home worlds.

Most importantly, I thank God for both. Even on my worst days, He is my best refuge.