Saying "No" to Where You've Been and "Yes" to Where You're Going

They always say, love will find you when you stop looking for it. They always say you get pregnant when you stop trying. I don't know who "they" are, but I'm starting to think they're really on to something. Justin was the last thing I was looking for when we strolled into each others' lives eight years ago. Yet, here we are. Eight years together, three years married, and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna keep him. (Disclaimer: *Before you all start freaking out, I am definitely not pregnant.*) But, something nearly just as life consuming found me while I was looking the opposite direction.

When I decided to go back to school three years ago, I had a plan. A whole big plan. I gathered a ton of information from college advisers, from other students, from friends and family, and I set out on the path I had decided was the best fit. I finished the first semester, and it felt great. I finished the second semester, and it all fell apart.

The path I was so sure of, and following oh so intently, got obliterated. More than once. In this order-- Program was cancelled. Found new program. Enrolled. Program was cancelled. Found new program. Enrolled. Lost all my funding. Said NO WAY. Dropped Out.

I'm a firm believer that life is just a long series of paths and pivot points, and it's what you do with the pivot points that determine where you end up. Think of it this way-- paths are driven by yes's, and pivot points are created by no's. I had definitely hit a pivot point. I am certain that I will never, not ever, forget the moment I said "no way." I was sitting in the financial adviser's office at Oklahoma City University, finding out that finishing my degree was going to cost $30,000 more than expected.

I hate crying in public. I HATE crying in front of strangers. But I did. A lot.

I had been so intent on following the path I had originally planned, that every time I had hit a bump or possible pivot point, (TWO cancelled programs, helloooo?), I just kept saying "yes" and moving forward. "Yes," even when my path started to look different from what I had intended....Until I got to that very moment, and saying "yes" was just not possible. I just couldn't. I'll never forget that "no" moment, (partially because I was an embarrassing soggy mess in front of a complete stranger), mostly because that one moment directly impacted the rest of my life.

At that point, I just wanted to finish school with a degree, basically any degree. I had worked too hard, and I'm just not fond of being a quitter. I honestly can't tell you exactly what pointed me to the Sociology program at the University of Central Oklahoma. I think it was a combination of several things. But, at the point that I finally said "no" to OCU and my original path, I said "yes" to this new path and started my first semester of Sociology classes at UCO.

Do you remember the first time you fell in love with something? I mean, really fell in love with it. Maybe it was the first time you read a book and haven't been able to put it down since, maybe it was your first day of a new career that excited you to no end, maybe it was your spouse, or your kiddo and loving that person put life in a new perspective.

That's what found me. All of that. And I was caught so off guard by it.

Let me just say, I have loved a lot of things in my life, and I've been good at a lot of things, (humble side note-- I'm terrible at twice as many things). But in all my adventures thus far, nothing, absolutely nothing, set my soul on fire quite like this. From day one of sitting in these classes, engaging in these conversations, learning these things that were blowing my mind, I felt alive with purpose. I've never in my life felt my soul beaming so brightly. Immediately, I knew, without a doubt, that this is where life was supposed to take me. Not a single doubt. I think we are granted very few actual purposes in our lifetime, maybe even as few as just one. And if you are lucky enough to find one of them, or have one of them find you, you better hold on tight and enjoy the ride. 

I have always been a curious person. I'm sure my parents would tell you I've been curious since I was old enough to wander. Part of that curiosity has always been questioning the way the world works, questioning the systems in place, wondering how it all works and how I could do it differently. That is very much who I am at my core. My independent spirit and against the grain attitude are very much a part of that.

That IS Sociology. Studying the deeply engrained and complex systems that make up the world we live in. Demographics, political systems, economics, human development, cultural norms....in short, it's all about what makes the world go 'round. And I dig it, (*understatement of the century*).

So what now? I'm saying "yes." I'm taking this path as far as it allows. I'm taking the GRE next month, and I'm going back to school. I want to go as far as I possibly can in this education. I'm willing to do everything I can to continue this path, because when you feel this connected to your soul and your true self, that's a feeling you never want to lose.

It's always funny to me the reactions I get when I tell people that I plan to continue, that I want to someday be a Doctor in the field of Sociology. Most people give their best sour face and respond with some form of "I could never..." And that's ok. Because it's hard to fully understand what sets someone else's soul on fire.

My purpose, is not anyone else's purpose, and vice versa. And that's something I think we could all stand to learn, about both ourselves and everyone else. Listen to your gut, know when to stop saying "yes" out of convenience, take advantage of the pivot points, let go of control, and let your passions find you. You never know, there could be a brand new purpose for your life just waiting to surprise you. You just may have to pivot to get there.


Happy Birthday to my Very First Hero

Lucille Ball was funny. Lucille Ball was fierce. Lucille Ball was a feminist, before it was even labeled "feminism." And Lucille Ball was my first hero.

I grew up in a Nick at Nite home. I often joke about how I didn't experience a television show that was being currently produced and aired until at least Middle School. While that may be a tad exaggerated, the MAJORITY of what I saw on TV as a child were early family sitcoms.... I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver.... the wholesome "classics" you might say. But, while they may have showcased "wholesome" family values, there was something else they most definitely did not showcase- a strong and fearless female lead character.

Except for one.

Lucy was fearless. She was fearless in her pursuit to break the mold that society far too often put on women, and still puts on them today. Women work hard to break free from those expectations today, but Lucy had to work even harder in the 1950s. That decade marked a time when the women were begrudgingly forced out of their jobs to make room for the returning soldiers, and were told there was really only one place they belonged-- in the home. And so, when it came to television, art imitated life, (or maybe life was imitating art).

In any case, Lucy was not the stereotypical housewife. She was not the supporting actress. She did not fade into the background. Her fearlessness, ambition, and pure hilarity set her apart from all others. As I got older, I developed a profound respect and admiration for the woman. I started collecting her biographies and reading her interviews. I got to visit the original set of I Love Lucy at Universal Studios. And the day I got to take a picture with her star on Hollywood Blvd...let's just say there were some teary eyes on this girl.

 So, in honor of her birthday...

The top 5 reasons why Lucille Ball will forever be my hero:


 “Ability is of little account without opportunity,” she said. When the studio she worked for wouldn't let her produce the show the way that SHE wanted, she created her own studio! She was the FIRST WOMAN to run a major television production company, DesiLu Productions, (which she co-owned with her husband.) Years later, after the two divorced, Lucille bought out Desi's share in the company, becoming the sole owner. She later sold that company for $17 million (a lot of money in 1967), and it is now known as Paramount Pictures.


She was a red head. By choice. On purpose. In her day, there were two options for women on-screen, a flirty blonde or a sultry brunette. Lucy colored her hair red, telling people that her desire was not to fit in, but to stand out.


She was a strong and independent woman, yet she adored her husband and was his biggest cheerleader in his career. She had to fight to get him on the show. Network producers didn't approve of their multi-ethnic marriage, and thought Desi was "too ethnic" for television. In true Lucy fashion, she wouldn't take no for an answer and refused to do the show without him. Of couse, she got her way. She divorced him after 20 years of marriage, because he was not a faithful husband, and because she knew she deserved better than that. But she always said that he was the love of her life, and that she loved and adored him until the day that he died. I've got mad respect for a woman that knows her worth and knows when to leave, but also doesn't hold a grudge.


She was 40 years old when she started I Love Lucy. Did you hear that?...FORTY...WHEN SHE STARTED. And she was America's #1 star on television with over 16 million weekly viewers. That may not seem so crazy to you, but when you consider that less than 20% of all female actresses we see on screen today are over 40, it gives you a little more perspective on what an accomplishment that was...and proves that it's never too late in life to pursue your dreams.


She was hilarious. Her comedy was relentless, and knew no bounds. As a young kiddo, I of course wasn't aware of the mountain of accomplishments she was standing on. I didn't know that she, (along with Phyllis Diller and Carol Burnett), were paving the way for funny women today. But, I knew she was funny. And I knew that she wasn't afraid to look RIDICULOUS.

I knew that she was not the same as the other wives and moms I had seen on TV. I knew that she could juggle being a best friend, being a wife and mother, and being an adventure seeker, and make it look like fun. I knew that she was different. I knew that she was special. And for a young girl, who couldn't wait to break the mold and make my own way, I knew that I absolutely and positively adored her. And for a much older gal now, who is strong in my passions, enjoys the orneriness of wild adventures, and is always itching to go against the grain, I still absolutely and positively adore, respect, and admire Mrs. Ball.

Here's to you, Lucy... Inspiring women to go after what they want, to challenge the status quo, to enjoy life to the fullest, (and to be brave enough to act ridiculous while doing so.)