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The Best Advice I Never Got: “We Must Be Wil...

The Best Advice I Never Got: “We Must Be Willing to Give Up the Life We’ve Planned…..

…so we can live the life that’s waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

Lee Aldrich MiddlesageWhen I was a wee bit younger, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was constantly bringing home wounded birds and lost cats and dogs. Even the neighborhood squirrels knew what time I got home from school and would wait on the porch or in the front yard while I  ran inside to get the nuts I would hand to each of them. (One even followed me inside once but freaked out when he realized he was inside…he couldn’t get outside soon enough.) I wanted to be a veterinarian until 10/11th grade chemistry stopped me in my tracks. I sucked at it. I could memorize anything – periodic element chart included – but I just didn’t get it. This was my first conscious realization that what I had planned for myself would not be what I thought; other things were waiting in the wings.

I have always been a creative sort – wrote stories as a kid, told some whopping fibs I actually got people to believe, looked at things differently than many people I knew. So since the vet thing wasn’t going to work out, I went off to college and set my sights on broadcast journalism. After OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERArealizing I probably wasn’t going to replace Barbara Walters any time soon, I switched majors to English Language. This was the change that fostered my ability to live the life that was waiting for me.

Whether writing prose, poetry, business plans, marketing strategies, media plans, blog articles, writing is what comes most easily to me. I have used writing to entertain, explain, convince, endear. I have been able to connect with business partners, clients, friends and relatives in a clear, concise way that expands my thoughts and makes my feelings crystal clear….many times better than if I was standing face to face with them.

Had I not switched gears – given up on the life I had planned – I would never have known the freedom to explore and finesse my gifts and talents. There are so many people who have experienced the same grace, I can’t help but share a few stories:

  • A child born to common-law parents experienced the separation of her parents and a move to another state where her mother and her mother’s new boyfriend added a half-sister to an already struggling family. Helping to support her family by running numbers and working as a lookout for a local bordello, she focussed her aspirations on becoming a dancer. Had she not given up the life she was planning, the $25 first prize that launched her career would have gone to somebody else and the world would never have known the immense talent of Ella Fitzgerald.
  • When his father died and his mother became the head of the household, the family experienced enormous economic struggles which almost imploded the family. At the age of 12 he quit school to take a job that paid him in food. While struggling to survive in job after job, at 21 he finally began to realize his dream – to learn to be a steamboat pilot. Two years later, he was a fully licensed pilot. Had the Civil War not broken out, which ended the steamboat piloting career he’d planned and dreamed of, Sam Clemens would never have realized the life that was waiting for him as American literary icon, Mark Twain.
  • When her parents split up, she and her brother were sent to live with relatives. At the age of 7 she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend and then witnessed her uncles kill her attacker. The trauma of the rape and murder sent her inside herself and for years was mute. During WWII she moved to California to study dance and acting. She had a child in the 1940’s, found success in the 1950’s as an actor, and began traveling abroad in the 60‘s. Had she not taken a step away from the life she had planned as an actor, had she not been urged by friends to write about her life and followed through on their urging, we would never have been gifted the literary memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” or the talent of Maya Angelou.

file5901256161591Had chemistry not stopped me in my tracks, I may have been a veterinarian. But who knows. If Ella Fitzgerald, Mark Twain and Maya Angelou had stayed on their original paths, would the world have been denied their incredible talents? Probably.

I am a believer that things work out as they are supposed to. Had I not been WILLING to change the tracks I THOUGHT I should have been on, had I not been WILLING to give up what I had planned for my life and walk down a different path, I would have missed the culmination of this one incredible life that was waiting in the wings just for me.

Were you willing to give up on the life you had planned? What was the life that was waiting for you? We would love to hear YOUR story……




  1. Chloe Jeffreys

    17 October

    I’m sure none of those amazing people were able to see the beauty that was to come out of the ashes of dreams unrealized. Thank you for some much needed perspective today.
    Chloe Jeffreys recently posted…A Fabulous Prison, But a Prison NonethelessMy Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      19 October

      I wouldn’t necessarily call it ashes of dreams unrealized, it’s more of the goodness of where life actually opened a wonderful path. Thank you for reading the post and your comment. Hope all goes well with your trip and mission in Haiti.

  2. Rachel Cotterill

    19 October

    I thought I was going to be a lawyer, a theoretical physicist, a highly-paid businesswoman… I’m currently a computational linguist with two novels to my name. And I don’t think I’m done yet 😉
    Rachel Cotterill recently posted…A Walk Around The Medieval Walls of CarcassonneMy Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      19 October

      OK…I admit…I just looked up computational linguist to find out what that was. My language background was linguistics/history but had not come across this. (Of course that was many moons ago!) Thank you for your comments. Heading over to read your “Walk around…” post.

  3. Mo at Mocadeaux

    19 October

    I am blessed to have never encountered the hardships endured by the courageous people you mentioned but I’ve always paid attention to the paths I’ve taken and not taken and appreciated the impact the decisions have had.
    Mo at Mocadeaux recently posted…The Decision That Changed My LifeMy Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      25 October

      Mo – I thought I’d responded to your comments…losing my mind – or sight! – apparently! I’ve not encountered those particular challenges either. Every now and then I wonder what would have happened if I took one path or another that I didn’t. Regardless of the decisions, I believe things work out as they are supposed to. But it’s fun to wonder! Thank you for your comments!!

  4. Adrian

    20 October

    I was going to be a musician, but I had a couple of teachers who discouraged me so badly I quit all forms of music. So I moved from a piano keyboard to a computer keyboard. Good move?/bad move? Who knows? I regretted it at the time, but now, not so much. It’s worked out to be a good life. #SITSSharefest
    Adrian recently posted…Clutterbugs: Easy 30-Minute Pantry Re-OrganizationMy Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      25 October

      What the heck kind of teachers were they? Annoys me that they DIScouraged instead of INcouraging! Moving from one keyboard to another has it’s definite advantages…it put you where the action was forming in the tech world. Thank you for your reply!

  5. Lindsay

    26 October

    I think we often hold on so tightly to our “plan” that we forget to truly live. The greatest gift that we can give ourselves is to let go of the need to know the outcome and experience life here and now. Thanks for the wonderful post!
    Lindsay recently posted…Stress Less By Breaking These 5 Cell Phone HabitsMy Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      28 October

      Lindsay – you are preachin’ to the choir! Here and now is all that we have. Thank you for your kind comments AND stopping by to read!

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