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Revel In Uncertainty March 10, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery.
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Even on the downhill slope, life continues to surprise and delight with unexpected opportunities and curve balls tossed in our path.

We think, “this is me,” and some hidden facet of our personality starts knocking to be let out “from the cupboard under the stairs.”

We say, “this is my life,” and new adventures appear on the horizon.

Growing up, I never thought I’d be . . .

Brave enough to take a vacation by myself.

During college, I spent winter, spring, and summer breaks safely cocooned at home. Senior year, my friends wanted to go to Florida. I wanted to go to St. Thomas.  I had only flown once before ~ a chaperoned trip in high school to France. I had never handled my own travel arrangements.

Rather than “running with the pack,” I did the bravest thing I’d ever done: I booked a trip for one to St. Thomas and stayed at the Windward Passage in Charlotte Amalie “by myself” for a week, meeting one amazing person after another.

The magical moments from that “week of freedom” would fill volumes.

Disciplined enough to become an attorney.  In college, I missed more classes than I attended, always having “better things” to do than sit in a lecture hall. I graduated on time, with a double major in Economics and Philosophy . . . and a G.P.A. no one would brag about. But, hey, 50% of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their class, right?

In Law School, I came alive. The courses fascinated me. I rarely missed a class. I received an invitation to join the Law Review, and became a Students Works Editor. The law school selected me to teach Legal Writing to first year law students. I worked as a law clerk in the Legal Department of SCE&G. Despite time-consuming, extra-curricular activities, I graduated with honors ~ quite a different experience from college.

Hungry enough to eat a Big Mac on our wedding night.  We exchanged vows in a simple ceremony. I wore my mother’s wedding gown (a perfect fit!). She catered the reception, including a three-tiered wedding cake. Busy chatting with guests, BFF and I forgot to eat. Shortly before arriving at our hotel, our stomachs started growling. Loudly. Nothing was open, except for McDonald’s.

Too hungry to care, we ordered Big Macs, fries, and shakes to eat in the Honeymoon Suite! 

Melodic enough to sing in a wedding. In high school, I taught myself to play the guitar. In college, I sung at a few Open Mike Nights. In St. Thomas, I “bartered” my singing talents for free passage on a day cruise around the island. I wanted to sing at our wedding, but “they said” I would be too nervous. We listened to what “they said” and hired a singer ~ a choice I still regret. I didn’t sing in our wedding, but I’ve sung in Four Weddings and a Musical since.

Fortunate enough to sail in a hot air balloon over the desert. While practicing law, a client flew attorneys and spouses to Palm Springs for a conference. During our free time, we “hijacked” a golf cart to visit friends on the course, got chased by security, and ended the afternoon with a bird’s eye view of the greens from the basket of a hot air balloon.

WARNING: Hot air balloons are noisy, and have a tendency to tip over during landings.

Unencumbered enough to take a month long cross-country trip to explore America. What an adventure: Mount Rushmore to Las Vegas, Yellowstone to Yosemite, the Black Hills to the Redwood Forest. One unexpected highlight . . . a helicopter ride over the Badlands to view pink, gray, and tan sandstone formations as far as the eye could see. Neither one of us had ever been in a helicopter before.

WARNING: Helicopters are noisy, but rarely tip over during landings.

Wikipedia ~ Green Eggs & Ham (Fair Use)

Courageous enough to audition for a play.

In high school, I lacked self-confidence to try out for school musicals. Oh, let’s be honest. I lacked the self-confidence required to return a defective blouse to a department store.

Twenty years later, I saw an audition notice for a local production of my favorite Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham. I auditioned, got the part, and finally had my stage début . . . as the Grouch!

What fun!

I danced and pranced while singing: “I would not like them in a house, I would not like them with a mouse, not in a box, not with a fox, not on a plane, not in a train, not in a tree, Sam Let Me Be!

I do NOT like Green Eggs and Ham . . . but I can ham it up on stage!

Confident enough to quit practicing law. After thirteen years of litigation, I’d had enough. I wanted to switch gears, but we had a mortgage and bills to pay. I worried. I fretted. I stressed over what to do. I wanted a safety net in place before resigning. I wanted to know what I would do next. I looked high and low, and no safety net appeared. In the end, I embraced the uncertainty and resigned without knowing what I would do next.

Just leap and the net appears.

IMGP3928Artistic enough to paint. As I explored career avenues, I experimented with cooking, song writing, and painting. Fascinated by zebras, I decided to paint two zebras on the Serengeti Plains. My inner critic piped up to tell me I couldn’t paint one zebra, much less two zebras.  I told her to shut up and painted a gorgeous watercolor.

Seeing that painting still makes me smile.

Strong enough to launch and oversee a Domestic Violence program. After I stopped practicing law, our town needed someone to set up and run a Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention Team. I’d never run a business. I didn’t know much about the cycle of violence in abusive relationships.  Nevertheless, I knew this position was the next step on my path. The Mayor agreed.

Once hired, I selected forty volunteers, set up training, coordinated with the police department, the court, and the prosecutor’s office, and launched Side by Side ~ a program still running thirteen years later.

During my tenure, I learned how to help ease the suffering of others without drowning in that suffering myself.

Wise enough to happily downsize.  Around the same time, I read a life-altering book by Elaine St. James, Simplify Your Life. She advocated making changes to simplify life and make time for things that really matter. Her words resonated. We started clutter busting and haven’t stopped.

With every trunk load of stuff we give away, our lives feel lighter and freer, and others benefit.

Less is more.

Lucky enough to live on the Chesapeake Bay. After running Side by Side for three years, we wanted to live somewhere less congested. We sold our house, rented an apartment on Chincoteague Island, house-hunted, bought a house on Deal Island, found jobs with Salisbury University and Habitat for Humanity, and enjoyed 8 years of front row seats to awe-inspiring sunsets.

3D-CowCommitted enough to become a vegetarian. As an attorney, I saw first hand how chickens are raised and processed. Over time, we stopped eating veal, chicken, turkey, beef, and pork. Now, thirteen years later, we would never go back to eating meat.

Meatless meals are better for us, better for the planet, and better for animals we would otherwise consume.

Hardy enough to enjoy a Windjammer Cruise. For our 20th Anniversary, we booked a three-day Windjammer Cruise in Maine, followed by a 4-night stay in Bar Harbor. We almost jumped ship after the first sleepless night in our postcard-sized cabin. Turns out we both have claustrophobia when forced to sleep on a bunk with less breathing room than a closed casket.

The next morning, at dawn, we tossed a coin: heads we would stay, tails we would grab our stuff and head to Bar Harbor. Tails. Two out of three? Tails. Three out of five? At that point, we knew we wanted to stay, despite the cramped quarters. We had a blast.

“We got the Cramped Cabin Blues sailing on Penobscot Bay.”

Bold enough to move to Florida before selling our house in Maryland.

To celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary, we took a two-week vacation to the Gulf Coast of Florida. A week into the trip, despite the slow housing market, we made a leap of faith and decided to stay!

We rented an apartment, dropped the asking price on our house, and grabbed all our personal belongings. Four weeks later, after eighteen months on the market, our house sold and we became Florida residents.

I still pinch myself every time I walk outside and see a palm tree.

Life is full of surprising detours.  We cannot always predict what waits around the next bend.  Our life is our own when we embrace our freedom instead of our fear ~ revel in uncertainty.

No Rules.  Just Write!

How about you?  Do you revel in uncertainty?  Do you look for ways to expand your world by seeking out new experiences?

What has surprised you most about your life so far?

Related posts: Writing Contest: Win $3,000!The Third-Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest * Winning Entry: The Ride of Her Life * I Never Thought I’d . . . (Greg Camp’s Weblog) * Brave New Adventures

Want to have your voice heard? Check the June 2011 issue of Real Simple for details about the next Life Lessons essay contest—plus a new contest in which you can compete to become a guest blogger on RealSimple.com.

Your Pet: A Hallmark Halloween Star? March 10, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People.
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IMGP1809Frightfully Funny!

Turn a photo of your pet into a Halloween Card for kids or adults . . . and add a touch of frightful humor inside.

Select a pet photo and put your humor to the test by creating a Halloween card that will make people laugh out loud.

Hallmark is running its 20th Greeting Card Contest:

Furry, Funny & Frightful Greeting Card Competition!

Create your funniest Halloween photo card featuring your pet and submit it.

Win up to $500 plus bragging rights for your design ~ which could be sold on-line, in stores, or both!

Deadline to enter: March 27th

Guidelines: Funny, Furry & Frightful

Open to EVERYONE around the globe!!!