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Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Sunday, June 6

Be Daring

I stepped into the classroom with butterflies in my stomach, intimidated to my core at being in an art studio full of 20-somethings, and saw the easels looming tall in the darkness. I can still vividly recall the cold January day in 2007 when i first set foot on the campus of HACC. I had to fight the urge to turn around and walk away back to the safety of the life I was living. I was returning to school 20 years after my first college experience. After 10 years of “saying” I wanted to go back to school to study design, and proceeding to do nothing about it, I was finally here. 

So what got me here, after all those years, at the age of 39? Was it a midlife crisis, Oprah inspiring me  to live my best life, or a sudden burst of resolution? No, it was on a dare. All the encouragement from my husband over 12 years, all the comments from friends that I should be a designer, that I should be in the arts, that my current occupation was a waste of my talents. Of all these inspirational words from people in my life, what encouraged me was a DARE FROM A CO-WORKER? Seth, by the way, had absolutely no idea that he was changing my life. As it turns out, I myself had no idea how much my life would change, either.

Another student in the graphic design program asked me during our final semester “if you knew how hard this would be, would you have done it?” I was very tired and strung out, behind on all of my work, struggling desperately to up and to keep my grades intact in what would be my final semester. “No” I snapped back. “No Way”! And it was hard. And trying. And humbling. Most of all humbling. Being a 40-something struggling to keep up with younger students is difficult, but for a 40-something business woman who has worked since the age of 21 and spent the past 5 years working for herself? Being graded, scolded, critiqued, and judged can leave you feeling like a contestant on Survivor. Outwitted, outplayed and outlasted. Again.

So I still think if I had known how hard it was I wouldn't have done it, but isn't that true for most of us? Few people really want to dedicate themselves heart and soul to anything. Few people really want to give up their weekends for homework or studying when it is beautiful weather outside. Few people really want to spend all their free time on projects and say no to social events. But when we have to, we do it. Isn't not knowing sometimes on our side? If we don't know that something is difficult, we can dive in to it with no preconceived notion of not being able to accomplish it. That is how some of the best thinkers of our time got where they are today. Bill Gates, Oprah, Steve Jobs. They just plugged away, one step at a time. I would bet if they truly had known the enormity of what they would achieve in their lives, even they would have thought twice before continuing. 

However, in the end when I wonder why I ever took that dare from my co-worker I remember something that was sent to me by my close friend Adam many years ago. It was during an extremely trying time in my life while hubs and I were coping in the immediate aftermath of his terrible accident. His entire email consisted of a quote from Helen Keller saying “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Underneath Adam added “be daring”. He probably doesn't know what it meant to me at that point in my life to have someone saying something other than, “you'll make it” or “it's god's plan” or “we're praying for you”. (All platitudes for which I appreciate the sentiment, but mean nothing to me as an agnostic) Adam gave me hope, gave me advice for living, and furthermore in two words adjusted my attitude. I read “be daring” as in “live your life to the fullest, don't let this slow you down, you can still do what you want and stop feeling sorry for yourself” all rolled into one. 

I have tried my best to live my life this way ever since that day. So that is why I took the dare. It seemed like the right thing to do.

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