What Was She Thinking? by Conlee Ricketts

I enjoy finding the silver linings. You might call me a cautious optimist, but as I write this I am fully expecting to be here in Columbus missing Thanksgiving with my father, brother, his wife, one of my nieces and her husband. I had planned on being there for the past two months, but it didn’t work out. I will be sad and I take full responsibility for that.

I’m sure I will be the subject of a conversation that starts off with “What the hell was she thinking?” To be fair to myself and in my defense, I had big dreams—I was certain I couldn’t fail. When I jumped off the cliff to chase my dream of working with adolescents, parents, and teachers I had a plan. I was in a supportive relationship, I had what I thought would be solid connections, I had brains, money saved, and most important I had a mission. I was building my business and supplementing my income by cleaning houses the first year, then I worked in a plastics factory for awhile during year two, I trimmed my budget to no debt, sold my car for a financial cushion and shared a vehicle with my partner.

It turns out the plan just wasn’t good enough.

Fast forward to year three and life (as it typically does) got in the way. I broke my wrist last winter requiring surgery which erased any financial cushion that I imagined I had, I am no longer in the relationship, I have no car and no employer. On paper it all looks very pathetic, and I understand why my family doesn’t know what to think about me, but I make no apologies for trying, or for believing in myself, or for failing—with a smile.

I taught ten years in an all-girl’s middle school encouraging young girls to find and use their voice, to take positive risks and to be bold. What example would I be for them or for my own daughter if I had never attempted all that I had encouraged of them? Following what was in my heart? So I tried and it didn’t turn out like I expected it would. That pretty much describes life in general doesn’t it?

I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I’m watching my third year at home with my daughter draw to a close because it must, and I am thankful for every single day that we spend goofing off together. I realize there are tactical, practical things I need to do as I view my life as a spreadsheet of “have” and “don’t have” but as I approach Thanksgiving I realize that what I am most thankful for is the time I was given. Time  exploring my dream, learning the tough lessons about myself, and finding out what it is I will bring to the world.  Each of these things has ultimately resulted in me enjoying my daughter and my life more than I ever thought I could. All because I didn’t succeed.

So to answer the question, “What the hell was she thinking?”

She thought she could.

She didn’t.

She’s happier now because of it.

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