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Revel In Uncertainty March 10, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery.

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.


1. Naomi - March 10, 2011

Wonderful sharing of some fascinating times, Nancy.

I have to say: Love those zebras!

Also, I second that warning about hot air balloons tending to fall over on landing – that happened to us too after flying over Addo elephant park 😀

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Thanks, Naomi. Zebras rock!

Everything about the hot air balloon ride surprised us ~ how noisy it is, how hot it gets in the basket, and how “unpredictable” the landings are.

I had pictured gliding silently through the air, without having to lean away from an intense open flame every few seconds.


I also pictured setting down quietly in an open field . . . not having the balloon drag us sideways for the length of a football field while we tumbled around in the basket on top of each other.

Great experience, though. 😎

2. CMSmith - March 10, 2011

Wow. Do I feel mundane. What an exciting life. For me, mundane is good. Great story. I’m right there with you on simplifying our lives, just several truckloads behind.

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Thanks, CM. You might surprise yourself if you jotted down the highlights of your life.

I’ve never felt all that adventurous . . . my life seemed to be a series of mundane moments interspersed with a few moments of sheer terror! 🙂

Writing for this contest and answering the prompt “I never thought I’d . . . ” made me realize that I’ve been braver and more courageous than I thought.

3. SuziCate - March 10, 2011

I suppose our biggest hurdles are our self-imposed restrictions. You have done some wonderful and exciting things. All I can say is WOW! I hope to soon go back to Chincoteague and Assateague Islands to do some bike ridng and nature absorbing.

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

We lived on Chincoteague for 6 months and loved its sleepy seaside charm. And wandering around Assateague while keeping an eye out for the wild ponies is such a great way to get back to nature.

Our favorite place to eat for lunch, AJ’s on the Creek. Shrimp Scampi, Pasta, Salad with house dressing and Goat Cheese . . . $7. So delicious. We also loved to stop at the Ocean Deli on the way to the causeway for Cheese Subs. Huge! Cheap! Filling! Perfect for picnics on the beach.

Enjoyed your piece today on balancing nomadic dreams with the desire for stability.

suzicate - March 10, 2011

Thanks for the suggestions…love a good eat, and cheap makes it even better. Can’t wait to really start getting out there..esp. right now need to clear the brain. Think we might do Dismal Swamp bike ride, NC side, this weekend!

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

You’re welcome. Enjoying nature is a wonderful way to restore mental balance and clarity.

Be here now.

4. Greg Camp - March 10, 2011

I’m glad to see that my competition in the contest is such a good writer.

I have yet to experience a hotair balloon ride, but I’ve been dreaming about it since childhood. Of course, I don’t like heights. Still, I’ll do it someday. Jumping out of an airplane, on the other hand, is never going to happen.

We need more lessons in the world about taking chances on what we want, rather than what we’re expected to do.

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Thank you, Greg. Right back atcha! Loved your post today. Thanks for the heads up. 😀

I would definitely do another hotair balloon ride ~ very pleasant way to see the sites and not too scary even if the landing is a bit bumpy.

My older brother is afraid of heights and he managed on a champagne flight by looking off into the distance instead of hanging his head over the side of the balloon. 😯

I agree with you about encouraging people not to play it “too safe.”

“When we are unwilling to risk anything . . . we risk everything.”

5. viviankirkfield - March 10, 2011

I’m not crazy about heights either…but I went skydiving with my younger son this past August. And I went parasailing when my husband and I were in Hawaii 20 years ago. I’m not crazy about swimming or the ocean…but I went on an underwater walk and also on a banana boat ride, tethered to the large inflated yellow hot dog with…nothing, and only a piece of rope to hold on to. 🙂
So yes, I think we all can do so much that we perhaps think we can’t.

Nancy, your life has been all that it should be so far…and more wonders to come, I know!!! Thank you for sharing your amazing life with us. 🙂

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Wow! Skydiving and parasailing. You are full of adventure. Very cool about the inflated yellow hot dog. 😎

I want to go parasailing this summer for my birthday. On a nice day with gentle breezes that lift us up without threatening to snap our life line.

When we face our fears, our world expands.

6. kateshrewsday - March 10, 2011

Life is an adventure 😀

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

True dat!

7. 1959duke - March 10, 2011

I never thought I’d wind up in Tennessee. Any further moves would be south. My days fighting the northern winters are done. You know I am having surgery soon. Then yesterday I get an e-mail asking me if I wanted to be part of a planning committee to address the issues of sexual abuse in schools and the workplace. Give presentations and the like. I’m thrilled to do it.

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

How exciting! New challenges give us a chance to stretch our wings and fly in new directions.

Best of luck with the surgery, Duke.

And I absolutely agree with you about northern winters. If I never see another snowfall, I’m at peace with that. 😀

8. 1959duke - March 10, 2011

This new opprotunity is giving me something to look forward to past the surgery.

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Having something to look forward to post surgery will help speed your recovery time.

9. Piglet in Portugal - March 10, 2011

WoW! Your life is certainly an adventure 🙂

“What has surprised you most about your life so far?” We quit the rat race, moved to Portugal, have no money and now live on fresh air 🙂 Happy? Yes Free? Yes
I once read “dreams have no boundaries”…you just need courage.

You certainly had plenty of courage! 🙂

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

That is so awesome, PiP!

I love it when people follow their hearts rather than stressing to earn MORE money to buy MORE stuff that they don’t NEED and don’t even have time to USE.

When we are happy and feel free . . . we know that we are on the right path for us.

Enjoy living your dreams.

Piglet in Portugal - March 10, 2011

When you have no money you certainly learn the “true” meaning of recycling and appreciate the simple things in life…it’s not about possessions it’s about who you are 🙂
Boa Noite

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

So true. We don’t have much in the way of disposable income at the moment, so we look for FREE and low cost events close to home:

Lectures at the library
Strolling around art galleries
Attending free concerts
Bike riding and walking on the beach
Exploring local parks and preserves
Shopping at the farmer’s market

We’re having a blast without constantly reaching for our wallets. 😎

10. Maggie - March 10, 2011

Breaking out of our comfort zones and doing things we didn’t think we could/would ever do is awesome. 🙂

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

I agree. Boredom arises from routine. Shaking loose from the moorings, just for a day, returns the spring to our step and infuses us with energy and enthusiasm.

Thanks, Maggie!

11. Carol Ann Hoel - March 10, 2011

Your life has been filled with adventure! I like the way you plunged into your unforeseeable future after leaving your career in law.

My life has been unpredictable. I take one day at a time expecting surprises, challenges, trusting that my life has been planned, if not by me, by the One who is the master builder. I laughed at the last sudden and momentous change. I saw His hand in it, and I thanked God, and stepped into our new agenda. I get up in the morning happily but warily thinking: What’s up, Doc? Blessings to you, Nancy.

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Thanks, Carol Ann. I feel much the same.

For six months, I had no idea what I would do next. Then the opening in the Domestic Violence program appeared on the radar . . . and I knew it was the next step on my path.

I just keep moving forward, waiting to see where the path will lead next.

12. Paula Tohline Calhoun - March 10, 2011

Well, I never thought I would write, then write a blog, then find new possibilities for my writing. I never thought I wouldn’t have a piano in my house, and never thought that if i did, I could still find happiness. I never thought I would pursue photography or even enjoy it if I did. I never thought that through writing I would grow and meet such fabulouly entertaining and wonderful people! I guess I never thought. . .enough!

But you certainly did! 😀

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Thanks, Paula. I left my piano in MD along with most of our furniture. Someday, I’ll probably get an electronic keyboard. Til then, I have my guitar.

Moving forward is interesting, not knowing what is around the next curve in the road. Looking back at the steps that led to this door . . . even more fascinating.

I’ve always known “enough” to take the next step and the next . . . without ever being sure of the ultimate destination.

When we enjoy the journey, we win. No matter where we end up, we win. 😀

13. Cindy - March 10, 2011

An interesting life, Nancy, would love to have you at my table and hear more of your stories.

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Hey, if you’re cooking . . . I’ll be there! 🙂

That spread you put on today sounded terrific.

14. libraryscene - March 10, 2011

Inspired by your journey, it reminds me to continue to push despite economic limiters.
I concur on solo traveling ~ best trip yet, impromptu to San Fran (I’m in *yawn* part of Midwest)..so many great “dates” with strangers. Next windfall and I’m off, somewhere…
(btw, glad you decided to ditch the Big Macs, the animals and enviro thank you, cheers~)

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Thanks. Our travel budget is rather limited these days, so we enjoy low or no cost staycations in the immediate area. Saves gas from flying or driving. Also a benefit to the environment.

Enjoy the journey . . . even if you never stray far from home. 😀

15. Tammy McLeod - March 10, 2011

This was fun Nancy. Love your wedding story and that you’ve such a successful marriage. And that you love the water!

nrhatch - March 10, 2011

Thanks, Tammy.

We have had a terrific marriage. BFF has always been one person I could count on to say, “Go for it!” . . . even if everyone else felt I was making one mistake after another. 🙂

16. viewfromtheside - March 11, 2011

after that first holiday, none of the rest should have suprised you. you are an adventurous soul, looking for more than the 8-hour grind and financial worries

nrhatch - March 11, 2011

Thank you, Sidey. Your comment gave me a brief epiphany this morning.

That was me! That was ME breaking free of the masks I’d been wearing.

Taking that trip seemed so “out of character” for me at the time ~ because it was out of “character.” I stepped out of “character” and embraced my authentic self. 😀


17. granny1947 - March 11, 2011

My word you are one bright lady…I am mightily impressed!!!

nrhatch - March 11, 2011

Thanks, Granny.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

~ Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. New York: HarperCollins (1996)


18. Tilly Bud - March 11, 2011

What a fascinating account! I particularly like your willingness to take on new challenges; so many people are too afraid.

nrhatch - March 11, 2011

Thanks, Tilly. One reason it’s been “easier” for me is that I am not responsible for offspring.

If we make the decision to become parents, we must consider not only our willingness to take on new challenges, but also pause to consider what’s right for them.

Having children slows the journey, but adds another dimension to it. I expect I would have followed a different path entirely.

19. Things Don’t Go According To Hoyle | Spirit Lights The Way - June 16, 2014

[…] posts:  Sailing The Maine Coast * Revel in Uncertainty * Brave New Adventures * Never Confuse an RV With an […]

20. laurakelly2 - July 31, 2014

Thank you for sharing this link with me. Great and inspiring post!

nrhatch - July 31, 2014

Thanks, Laura! Here’s to taking chances, facing new challenges, and spreading our wings!

Enjoyed your post:


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