I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, but I am one for making changes; taking chances. Two years ago, my family made a choice. Premeditated only in our need for change, we sold our house, I quit my job and we moved 300km to a new life in Chatham-Kent. The change we made might have been bigger than the change we needed, but it led us to discover a new way of living, and a new way of being together. We’ve had our challenges and our disappointments, but the choice we made two years ago is one we have never regretted. It was scary, it was hard work, but it was worth it.
Because here’s the thing about choices: sometimes they are a confrontation, forced upon us; unwanted, and sometimes they are a gift, needed, desired, required. But either way, a choice is an opportunity. An opportunity to make a change.
An opportunity to take a chance.
I remind myself of this every time I am faced with a new situation, a new challenge, or a new choice, because sometimes the simple act of walking into a room feels like taking a bigger chance than changing our entire life did.
Moving away from Toronto was the ultimate act of leaving my comfort zone, but much less serious situations have filled me with a great deal more anxiety. Like joining a local book club. Partly it was because the circumstances were not purely logistical, and I would be forced to navigate personalities, not a check-list of tasks, and partly it was because, unlike putting our house up for sale and opening the doors of it to strangers, I was putting myself on display, and opening myself up to the judgment of strangers.
Turns out, I hated the book we read. It was terrible, but I couldn’t exactly say that to people I didn’t know, who didn’t know me. Over dinner that night, I told my husband that I thought I shouldn’t go, that I wouldn’t know how to be diplomatic enough to communicate my distaste for the book without offending somebody. He told me that I should just be myself; keep smiling, and maybe, this once, to listen more than I spoke. So I went.
I stood in the doorway of our meeting spot, took a deep breath, smiled, and walked in. Turns out, it was a great meeting. In a room full of strangers I didn’t necessarily mesh with every single person, but our shared interest in books, and a ready-laid groundwork for discussion meant that the evening went well.
The next day, in the schoolyard, I was chatting with a few other moms, when the topic of a popular reality show came up. Did you watch it, one of the other moms asked me, and before I had a chance to reply, my five-year-old daughter chimed up. “My mom wasn’t home last night, she went to the book club even though she hated the book!” I gave her a big smile and corroborated her story. “That’s right, I did,” I said as the bell rang. We headed towards the doors of the school, and as I held my daughter’s small hand in my own, I thought about two things — number one, that children have no filters and will pipe in at any time, so I should make sure she doesn’t know anything I don’t want her to broadcast to the schoolyard, and number two, that my kid was proud of me. I was modeling behaviour I wanted her to carry into her life as well. I wanted her to see that I could do things that weren’t always comfortable, and that there were always opportunities to make changes, to take chances.
Sometimes, they led you to a new book club. Sometimes, they led you to an entirely new life.