Today is the last day of National Blog Post Month and I made it. Thirty days and thirty blogs later I find myself writing my 100th blog post. For someone who went from writing once in a blue moon to everyday, this is a major accomplishment for me.
When I was ruminating on what I would write as my 100thblog post, the first thing that came to mind was something that touched me a few years ago. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, is a book based on the last lecture he gave at Carnegie Mellon University after being diagnosed with fatal pancreatic cancer. His last lecture came from the hypothetical question, “what wisdom would you leave with the world if you knew it was your last chance?”
As Pausch goes through his lecture, he continually reiterates the point that roadblocks occur in your life to keep you from doing what you want. The people that want something bad enough will continue on and push ahead through the roadblock. Roadblocks weed out the “men from the boys”. In my life, I have faced many roadblocks, some I even put up myself but I have just recently learned that only I am able to knock them down. No one is going to do it for me, living a good life means not being your own worst enemy.
If this were my “last blog”, what would I want to say?
I had a dream when I was a kid. It started at about the age of seven when I discovered that people wrote books and that I could grow up and one day write books. Above all else, above all “practical” jobs I could have, I wanted to be a writer. My mother wasn’t very keen on it. You would have thought that I told her I wanted to grow and be an actress. She encouraged me to be something sensible, a lawyer perhaps. I went to college and I took the LSAT and hit the first of many brick walls. I could never get what I needed to be competitive on that exam. I took it three times and went to study groups all to no avail. I gave up and got a job. I gave up because I didn’t want it bad enough.
In position after position I held, there was always the same theme amongst my employers, they all thought I was “too good” or “too smart” for the position I held. That I needed to go on to do something more. I needed to go back to school or I needed to get some different training. The consensus was, I wasting away my talent and my ambition in a cubicle. The roadblock was me. I was too scared to reach for what I wanted, too afraid of rejection.
Then I had children and it changed me, every fiber of me was different. Motherhood made me a stronger person. If I could create another person and most importantly keep it alive, there was no limit to what I could do. The only person who could limit me was myself. Throw in a near death experience and you have the recipe for a life changing event. I wanted to get out there and experience everything that life had to offer me. I would never turn down another opportunity again. Life is so incredibly short. Just when you figure it all out, it’s gone. There’s just not enough time to wallow in self-pity or hide away in fear. The world is vast and wonderful. This country, for all its faults is still amazing. I was just saying the other day, “That only America can a person go from shopping at the Salvation Army one year to being able to afford Versace the next.” The opportunities are there you just have to be strong enough to reach out and grab them.
The one thing in Randy’s lecture that has stuck with me all these years later is, “you can’t change the cards you are dealt just how you play the hand.” Being an avid poker player, I understand this completely. You can get dealt a shitty hand. That’s life. Sometimes some people just pull the short straw. Only you can turn that losing hand into a winner. It’s all about how you place your bets. In life, you can turn that losing hand into a winner by what you do. Your actions, how you treat others, keep your integrity and always working hard. Good guys don’t always have to finish last.
If this were my last blog, I would tell you I’m happy. I have a wonderful husband. We have five great kids who drive us to drink on a regular basis. We have the cookie cutter life and even have the dog. Yeah, we might have went over the 2.5 kids thing but we were always over achievers. We have everything we could need and a few of the things we want. I might not have become a famous writer but I had 1100 people read one of my blog posts on BlogHer. There are countless people who have read my blogs posts and commented that my writing touched them or entertained them. That, to me is more precious than going into a bookstore and seeing my name on a shelf. If I were to die today, I would say I am happy and that I am complete. I may not have been as successful as I wanted to be but I was as successful as I needed to be to make me fulfilled.
Writing my blog and meeting the other wonderful writers that I have come across in the three months since I started has truly been a joy. Reading amazing post after amazing post has pushed me to want to write better. I’ve learned through them and my readers that success isn’t always measured in a paycheck. It measured in what you leave behind. The wonderful adults I know my kids will become. The people whose days I’ve made brighter, the people who no longer feel alone because they know at least one other person in the world knows how they feel. That’s the real success.
If I could only tell you five things, I would tell you this:
1. Follow your dreams.
2. Follow your heart.
3. Never argue with your intuition.
4. Never give up.
5. Never settle.
Feel free to watch the lecture here: