Design Mom Asks

February 2, 2012

If you close your eyes and remind yourself of the biggest chance you ever took, where do your thoughts send you? Somewhere lovely, I hope. Every single story I’ve heard reinforces my belief that the greatest leaps bring the grandest adventures. It just takes that first step. The five daring bloggers I gathered to answer my latest question prove this beautifully. Here’s how they finished this week’s question: The biggest chance I ever took was…

Shannon of A Mom’s Year:
…adopting a child after having three biological children. I wouldn’t admit it out loud, but I worried that I wouldn’t feel the same way about Lily Aili that I did the children I’d given birth to. Not only that, but I had nursed my first three and it had been an incredible bonding experience. How in the world would I bond with a 13-month old?

But then something amazing happened.

I settled into a chair with Lily in one arm and her bottle in the other. There we were, complete strangers — now mother and daughter — faces just inches apart. As I helped her position the bottle, our eyes met and held. I gazed into those brown eyes and saw Lily’s guard begin to break down, ever so slowly. I don’t know what she saw in my blue eyes, but I like to think it might have been a certain fierce protectiveness. You’re mine now and I will take care of you.

As the hours and days and weeks went by, we experienced a growing familiarity, then tenderness, then love. Now Lily is a happy, thriving, glorious seven year old. I watch her with her siblings and laugh to think that I ever worried. It’s so obvious that we belong together.

And one of the loveliest blessings from this chance I took is that when someone whispers that she’s afraid she won’t love her adopted child enough, I can say with absolute certainty that yes, you will love this child just as much as if you’d given birth to her. You belong together.

Rosa of FlutterFlutter:
…trying to have it all.

After high school, I was trying to decide whether or not to move to the States to attend a well-known art center in Atlanta, or to stay in Vancouver and attend a local art school; a decision made harder by the blossoming relationship I was in with a pretty great guy. I worried that by staying put I would be giving up the chance to be successful as a graphic designer, but also worried that by leaving I would be giving up any chance we had of sustaining the relationship.

I took a chance, choosing love and a local school, and I haven’t looked back. Art school introduced me to amazing friends, followed by both great and not-so-great design jobs where I learned from such talented people. And the relationship turned into a fabulous marriage: 13 years, two kids, and counting! Now, as a full-time mom and part-time graphic designer, Etsy seller, and blogger, I realize that having it all doesn’t mean that I can have everything. But I’ve also discovered that everything I do have is all that I need.

Sandra of Raincoast Cottage:
… leaving a successful career for a new one in a completely unrelated field.

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved people and creativity and beautiful things. But when it came time to go to college and have a career, she took the responsible way out; she became a business consultant and made lots of money. But do you know what? She didn’t live happily ever after. At least, not at first.

That girl was me.

I was good at what I did. I was successful. I gave speeches. I taught courses. I wrote articles for magazines. I worked overseas in southern Africa. But when I was alone and quiet, I kept hearing a little voice that asked, “Is this the life you want? A life that revolves around your paid work with very little time for your passions and interests and fun?”

One day I took a big chance – the biggest chance I ever took, in fact! – and I decided to change careers. I left the consulting world, and became and marriage and family therapist. Of course it didn’t happen overnight. I first decided to change. Then I researched graduate schools. Then I applied. Then I was accepted. Then I resigned from my job and did some contract work while in school. And finally, two-and-a-half years later I had a graduate degree in counseling psychology.

What did I learn? I learned how hard it is to change when the people from your old world don’t quite understand why you are moving to a new world. I learned that it’s hard to be a beginner again. It’s hard to be really, really bad at something, especially when you have been really, really good. Humbling stuff! I learned that you must follow your dreams. You need to find your tribe…your community that shares your values.

Make no mistake: it wasn’t easy, and there were many bumps along the way. But I learned that I’ll always regret what I don’t do much more than what I do, no matter how it turns out.

Christa of I Know How Is Babby Formed:
… quitting a full-time job that was local to write remotely for a company located across the country. In some ways, it was an easy choice because I’d already put in a few years of light freelance work for that far-away company. In other ways, it felt like an immense risk; I’d be a contract worker with no benefits and no guarantees.

But it was a good thing ultimately, because I needed that flexibility desperately when my daughter was born six weeks early.

Now, a few years later, I’m back in that exact same boat. It feels like an odd replay of my mid-twenties! I’m working locally again with aspirations of starting my own business and attracting enough clients via word of mouth and my editing and writing website to be able to work from home and to make my own hours again. It’s no secret to my blog readers that we’re trying to conceive again, and I want to be able to give my future children the same sweet mama-at-home time. Hopefully sometime soon, I’ll be taking the same big chance again on my own terms.

Lisa of Little Monster:
… trying to have a baby. This decision was huge for me. I will never forget the sound the birth control pill container made hitting the bottom of the trash can. It sounded like a hundred tons of bricks hitting hard concrete on top of a microphone. I knew I wanted to be a mom, but I wasn’t sure if I was prepared enough, strong enough, happy enough, accomplished enough, ME enough to take the leap. You name it, and I worried about it. It had taken me years to get comfortable in my own skin, and now I was thinking about doing that for my own child? Surreal!

But really, the reason for my hesitance was garden variety fear with a big dose of insecurity. I did overcome these feelings long enough to conceive. I mustered up the courage to have a very stern conversation with the voices in my head. I told them to take a hike. There was no need for them where I was heading. It took a couple of these heart-to-heart chats and a lot of coaxing, but thankfully it worked.

I think I was right to be scared, up to a point. Bringing a person into the world is the most important thing you can do, and with that comes responsibility. But having Rowan is the best thing I have ever done. I have never been more inspired, tired, happy, sad, strong, weak, loving, and loved in my entire life.


Thank you, ladies, for sharing your stories. I’m sure you’ve inspired more than a few of us to take that first step. Your turn, Friends! Will you tell me of your most daring leap and answer this week’s question, please?  The biggest chance I ever took was…

I know you’ll inspire me leaps and bounds!

Little bird found here, but I wish I knew the photographer responsible for capturing such beauty.

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy February 2, 2012 at 6:45 am

The biggest chance I ever took was…meeting a man I met online in person. I was fresh out of college and he was a 30 year old man from CA. We met in a music chat room. I was looking for local concert tickets and he answered my question. We emailed, wrote letters and talked on the phone for an entire year before we met in person. He flew to NYC (where I was living at the time) and we spent a weekend getting to know each other in person. It was a sweet weekend, friendly and romantic with only one real kiss at our goodbye. When he flew back his coast and I stayed on my coast… something dawned on both of us. We had found love in a very unconventional way. We have been together as a couple for 15 years, married for 11…. he is my best friend in every sense.


2 Ris February 2, 2012 at 7:34 am

The biggest chance I ever took was…moving across the country from Austin to Chicago for grad school. I got a great education that propelled me into my dream job, and met the man I hope to spend the rest of my life with. It also got me to step outside of my comfort zone in ways I could not have imagined. I got off that plane in Chicago with no regrets and have never looked back!


3 Kate in the Shade February 2, 2012 at 7:43 am

The biggest chance I ever took was… convincing my university to hire me as an international recruiter. I was a senior in college and a professor told me, in passing, that the school would benefit from a student traveling overseas to do international recruitment. My close friend and I agreed that was a great idea–and who better for the job than us? We put together a proposal, met with a couple of school vice-presidents, and were given the job. We were paid to travel to 13 countries in 5 months. It was, and still feels like, a dream.


4 tearinguphouses February 2, 2012 at 7:44 am

so inspirational! i can relate to several of these stories.


5 Heather @ That Uncomfortable Itch February 2, 2012 at 7:47 am

The biggest chance I ever took was…deciding to keep our baby. I was 21, unmarried, still in college. We got married 6 weeks before Loren was born and it’s been an adventure like none other ever since! It is now 19 years later. We divorced a little over nine years ago. We have a 14 year old daughter and our caboose baby is now 7. We have reconciled and continue to get on the ride every day.

My father told me that keeping Loren would be a one way ticket into poverty. Some days I think he was right. Other days I couldn’t care less. But every day when I look at the faces of these beautiful beings I am so grateful Matt, my partner and baby-daddy, convinced me to take the chance. I can’t imagine a life without this fabulous madness.


6 Melissa L. February 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

Marrying my husband is the biggest chance I ever took. You see, I not only became a wife, I became an instant mom.
My husband was a single dad when we met. He had been raising two precious little ones (ages 2 and 3) on his own for over a year. I was a speech therapist at their preschool and one day he got up the courage to ask me on a date. I accepted and we had a whirlwind romance! We had our first date in January and we were married in May (of the same year!).
My family and friends thought that I had lost my mind, and they were right. Love can make you do crazy things!
Fifteen years and six children later, my husband is my best friend and I am madly in love with each one of our precious kids! Big chances=big blessings!


7 Connie February 2, 2012 at 9:16 am

Great question!
The biggest chance I ever took was choosing to go to the college I did. My choice was between an in-state school that would have been much more affordable where I knew people already, or the one that was smaller, out-of-state, and where I knew no one. I picked the latter, and so much good happened to me: I met my very dearest friends, came to faith, got a fabulous education, and met my husband!


8 Christa the BabbyMama February 2, 2012 at 9:22 am

Thanks again so much for including me :)

It’s amazing reading everyone’s answers in the post and in the comment. How brave we all are when push comes to shove!


9 Tanya February 2, 2012 at 9:23 am

This is SO inspiring! I love it! Such a great reminder that big leaps of faith have the best and biggest rewards.


10 Kristen E February 2, 2012 at 9:52 am

The biggest chance I ever took was retreating. I was in seminary, realizing that my health problems were much more serious than I wanted them to be, and trying to escape an abusive relationship. I had no idea what to do or where to go – I was too sick to work enough to take care of myself, but clearly the man I was with wasn’t safe or healthy for me either. But I’d been there for several years and was afraid of leaving what was known for the unknown. I was also afraid that I’d never be able to escape my boyfriend. My parents charged in like white knights, renting a moving van, coming to my apartment and helping me pack up my things. I left my seminary and my boyfriend in one fell swoop, moving two states away to live with my parents until I got back on my feet. It was the smartest thing I ever did, but in the moment it was terrifying!


11 Rosa @ FlutterFlutter February 2, 2012 at 10:12 am

So thrilled to be included today! I’m loving all the stories!! Such great sharing going on! :)


12 Ayme February 2, 2012 at 10:13 am

Serendipitous post. I am in need of a big change in my life and in the beginning steps of making something happen. Thanks for the encouragement.


13 Lauren February 2, 2012 at 10:23 am

The year I turned 30, my husband and I decided to make a year of risks. I quit my full-time job to start my own sewing business. He left his stable job to work for a company he’d always wanted to work for. And we started the paperwork for an international adoption of two children. Taking all those risks at one time sort of took my breath away, but at the same time, once we had committed to one, it was almost easier to just keep going!


14 teresita February 2, 2012 at 10:26 am

I love these answers!! Thanks for sharing!!


15 Liz February 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

Love this post! :)

The biggest chance I ever took was quitting my full time job to make a living freelancing. I was working long nights and every weekend for a company that didn’t value me, but this was 2009 and the economy has just fallen apart so switching jobs didn’t appear to be an option. I took the leap, having NO idea if I’d be able to make rent the next month. I somehow found freelance work and began building a client-base, and now I look back on it as the best thing I’ve ever done. But definitely the scariest!


16 CMN February 2, 2012 at 11:12 am

y’know, it’s funny… my first reaction to the question was: have I EVER taken a great leap?

I have. I’m sure I have. But the resulting experiences have all been counted as blessings, and now that original decision point doesn’t feel so big anymore.

Of course, so says the single lady who’s never been married and has no children. Would I consider those decisions more pivotal at this stage in life than most others? Yes. In fact, the ‘finding someone to marry and share your life with’ stills cares me — how do you know? how do you make that decision? and, having reached an Established point in life, how do you change to share a life with another person? All questions I’ve never had to answer yet. A different sort of leap that I yet hope to take. And one I don’t doubt will be filled with its own blessings and challenges…. just like so many roads we follow in life.


17 Tiffany February 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Getting married. Greatest chance I’ve taken, greatest leap of faith I’ve taken, and the greatest amount of faith on one person I’ve applied. I’ve never looked back. It has been BEST decision I have ever made!


18 Fannie February 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm

The biggest chance I took was…
Making the decision to have a baby while in graduate school. I thought moving to DC without any friends was hard – but the 10 months from decision to baby was a roller coaster of worry and anxiety. Would I have enough time to get everything done? How would I manage child care? Would we have enough money? Should I just quit school and not worry about being a Nurse Practitioner?
Now, with my beautiful 8-month-old daughter, all the worry and anxiety seems almost humorous. I will graduate at the end of this year. I know I can manage school and baby. It’s okay if the laundry doesn’t get folded. My sweet baby makes the extra planning for homework completely worth it.


19 Lizzi February 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I can relate a lot with Lisa. That sound of the container hitting the trash can is SO loud! :)

But I think the biggest leap I’ve taken so far was getting married as well. I had no idea at the time what a big leap it was, but over time I’ve come to appreciate my willingness and excitement to do it. We have so many choices! It’s really empowering to finally make a choice, and committ yourself to it :)


20 Molly February 2, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Loved this! This is the second post I’ve seen about this topic in two days, and you know what I just did this morning? I withdrew my application for a job even though I was about to be called in for the final round of interviews. I realized in the last couple of days that my heart is elsewhere and that I need to take the leap toward my dream career by not moving up in the career I’m in. It was hard to send that email this morning, but I need to follow my heart.


21 Joan February 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I rolled the dice on marriage to a bad boy from New Orleans. Being an uptight “good girl” from the middle class suburbs, we were completely different, both from disastrous childhoods, but with different viewpoints on the world, different histories, different interests… On top of that, my parents had a horrible, hateful marriage, so I grew up thinking that I never wanted to get married. Ever. I was going to move to Florence with my best friend and open a blended coffee cart on the Piazza del Duomo! Something told me to do it, and 12 years in, I’m really happy that I did. There have been days, weeks, YEARS, when I wondered what the heck I was thinking, and I STILL wish I was in Europe, but we have a gorgeous daughter, a happy marriage, a lovely house (right back in those middle class suburbs) in a beautiful part of the world, and a genuine, deep love for one another. Our happy little family is my proudest accomplishment.


22 Jessica Rowe February 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I once met a man that I was sure I would marry.. he was kind, spontaneous, handsome, motivated and everything else I always thought I wanted.. until he broke my heart. So on the rebound from my very broken heart I allowed a complete stranger to set me up with her brother who sounded like he was nothing I was looking for.. We had been on a few dates which I had really enjoyed but nothing serious.
Imagine my dismay when my perfect man called me out of the blue saying he’d made a horrible mistake and couldn’t imagine his life without me.. I wanted to say yes- a life with him was the life I thought I’d always dreamed of- but as I listened to my heart that day something told me to say no and walk away from “mister perfect” to take a chance on “mister rebound” I felt certain it was right.

4 months later I married mister rebound(another chance in and of itself).. we’ve been married for a little over 3 years and are expecting our 2nd little girl later this spring.. I could never have imagined how blissfully happy he would make me but I am so glad I took the risk, listened to my heart, and made my own happily ever after!


23 Lisa February 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

About a year after my divorce, my friends took me out on a pub crawl. I did not believe a bar was the best place to meet a man. That night, I met a man 14 years my junior. My friends and family and heck even I thought I was crazy, but six weeks later he moved in. It’s been amazing, love filled years.


24 miggy February 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm

My freshman year of college I decided to transfer to a school Hawaii for a year. I didn’t know a single soul, I would be far away from any friends and family and that’s what I was after. Adventure and self reliance. I still remember not even figuring out how I was going to get from the airport to my new school when I got off the plane! Shoot, I didn’t even know where my new school was or how far away it was. Luckily that first day I found a group of students who looked like they might be going to this school and followed them. It was an adventure from start to finish. I was a stronger, more capable person than when I started. Looking back nearly 15 years ago it was still one of the best years of my life. Magic.


25 Julia February 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm

moving to a new part of the country with my husband, 24 weeks pregnant, with our family 20 hours away. it didn’t seem like much then but 4 years later, with 2 kiddos and after adapting to a new culture i believe it was quite a leap. life’s an adventure :)


26 Sandy February 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I have two! (Well, one and a half.) The first was choosing to do my student teaching in China. It was so “not me” and such a huge risk and scary commitment, two of my brothers-in-law had bet that I wouldn’t actually go. But I did, and sometimes I was miserable, and sometimes I was happy, but three months later I was back home. Everyone had said it would change me, and I kept waiting… but I never felt different. Until I got to the second leap… the teaching job market is lousy where I live right now (St. Louis), but a friend who’s a teacher in the DC area told me that her district would be hiring. I applied, and since the job fair/interview is next weekend, I figured I hadn’t been selected. My new year’s resolution was “rise above,” so I did my best to move on, continuing my job search locally. Then I got an email last week requesting my presence at the job fair. The problem: It was at the exact date/time as a local job fair. I had to make a quick decision to get good airfare, so I went for it.

Before China, this is not something I ever would have considered. I didn’t realize this until I noticed that, since my plane comes in Friday morning and my friend works all day, I’m spending the day in DC alone. I’m not scared or anxious, and it’s all because I spent three months halfway around the world, getting where I needed to go, without even knowing the language (and without the iPhone that I have now, no less!).


27 Lulu February 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Such inspiring answers that came straight from the HEART! Thanks for sharing these with all of us.


28 gina vide February 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I love seeing all of your readers comments! Again, you just have a way of inviting such interesting conversation. Lovely to return to your posts always. I completely, completely agree — both of my European adventures have led to life changes and adventures I’ll never regret (the last: dating over the ocean; back and forth between the US and Sweden for a year, ending with our wedding – it was a crazy leap of faith and I just knew; just knew.)…. streams of them between and: Currently, starting blogging and opening the blog to more than only my sister! So much fun… these leaps of faith are truly the moments we remember.


29 Tina Z February 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm

The biggest chance I ever took was going to a doctoral program 1500 miles away with no guaranteed funding and no money. Oh, and I left a boyfriend too. I had quit my job the year before to finish my MA and had zero savings after working as a TA for 9 months. I decided to go because I loved what was doing and hated what I was doing before grad school. Looking back, I can’t believe I made the decision so lightly. It was both easy and scary at the same time. When I moved, I packed only what fit in my little truck including my dog. I literally slept on the floor for 3 months (my twin sized air mattress had chronic punctures) until I got a research assistant position and was able to buy a cheap futon with my first check. I soon got fully funded, got a 2nd MA, got married, finished my PhD, got a visiting job, and will start a tenure-track job this fall. I basically said Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead! and never looked back.


30 Lori February 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm

The biggest chance I ever took was moving in with a man I had dated for two weeks. Actually, it still sounds reckless even today. But, we are now four years into our relationship and happily married. I wouldn’t imagine it any other way.


31 Shannon @ A Mom's Year February 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

It’s so fun reading these responses! Don’t you think a lot of them would make great movie plots?


32 Granola Girl February 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I had my son. My family didn’t want it and wasn’t going to support the decision. The child’s biological father didn’t want it and basically took off. No one thought it was a good idea. Everyone told me I was crazy. He’s 7.5 and the best thing that ever could have happened!


33 Lisa Fyfe February 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Thank so much for including me. It was cathartic exercise. Everyone has such interesting/brave stories. So inspiring! Great idea for a question.


34 Alesha Sevy February 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm

After being a single parent for 10 years, I recently got married to an incredible man who had also been single parenting for 5 years. We are both fiercely protective over our children and super geeky about being good parents. . .

We knew our worlds would forever change with the blend and we have been doing everything we can to make this a positive experience for our three children. We’ve had great experiences – both positive and challenging. Best decision I’ve ever made. . . It’s such a great feeling to have a “parent team” to back each other up – especially because we both own our own businesses and juggle a lot of projects.

Who knew marriage could be this fun and rewarding?


35 Tiffanie February 3, 2012 at 12:01 am

The biggest chance I ever took was starting my own architecture business, after having my first child and knowing I needed to be with her, and knowing that the oppressive situation I was in at my job at the time needed to end.

When my daughter was about 18 months old, I did the Julia Cameron program “The Artist’s Way”. Every morning for several months I hand wrote my morning pages (stream of consciousness writing) while nursing my daughter, and several mornings a week I would find myself ranting about how unhappy my employer made me (although I loved the work). Through the exercises and art and writing I did during that time it was SO obvious who was stifling me. I was working for her from home during the night and early mornings, and being with my daughter all day, and I was really unhappy.

The day I met with her to tell her the news was incredibly stressful. We had worked together on dozens of projects for close to eight years. I think she understood very well all the reasons, spoken and unspoken, why we needed to part ways, and it ended amicably. We actually had lunch together yesterday, almost five years after we parted ways.

Something I learned from doing “The Artist’s Way” was “leap and the net will appear”. And soon after I leapt, I got a phone call from the woman who would become my first client (thank goodness!).

I wrote in depth about my experiences with “The Artist’s Way” on my blog, in case anyone is interested in it.


36 Jani February 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

These are all such inspiring stories! What about you, Design Mom? I’d love to hear your story too!


37 Abbie Dahl February 3, 2012 at 10:04 am

I can relate to Sandra from Raincoast Cottage. I resigned from a successful marketing career and will be starting grad school this autum for Master of Public Health…. At age 37 with a toddler! And supportive husband!


38 christine February 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm

The biggest chance I took was selling all of my belongings, leaving all of my friends and family and moving to London from America. x


39 Lisa R February 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm

The biggest chance I ever took was a series of chances over 2-3 years. I was introduced to a guy online through some crazy coincidences. We started to date between two cities with lots of phone calls and plane tickets. Less than a year after our initial face-to-face, the opportunity of a lifetime came up for me- an overseas job for a start-up. I ended up taking the job and leaving him behind only to realize that he was a great catch. After repeatedly asking me to marry him, I finally said ok right before we were to leave to for the airport after a visit. He called the next day to ask if I was serious. I said only if he was. Almost a year later I married the only son in a large Asian family. (I had no idea what I was getting into.) Two months later he took the chance of quitting his job to join me overseas. Several years later we adopted our only child from another country and then I quit a lucrative career to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s been a wild, crazy, fun ride, but I wouldn’t change it. Who knows what will happen next?!


40 Sara February 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Like the blogger shannon, one of the biggest risks I took was adopting our daughter from Uganda. It’s been a wild ride. Our lives are completely changed. Following this adventure has given us new dreams for the future too. We’re now “risking it all” again – selling most of our stuff and moving to London and going back to grad school and adopting one more little girl!!


41 Shannon @ A Mom's Year February 6, 2012 at 11:09 am

Sara, I’m clearing some space in my day so I can dive into your blog and read about your adoption and travel adventures. London!


42 Lilis February 6, 2012 at 1:19 am

Love these stories, very motivating & heart warming, it’s all I need :)
Been questioning my own life journey and wish to make it more passionete, I’ll listen to my heart more now….


43 Melissa - Keith Pitts Portraits February 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

I just love that picture, it sums it all up. Our philosophy (my husband and I) is to always take chances. That is why our life together is such a grand adventure. Our kids seem to be enjoying it too!


44 Kris February 8, 2012 at 6:54 am

Uprooting my entire life and following my husband to another country (England). We’ve lived here for 4 years now and I’m so happy with the person I’ve become, which is a direct result of living in a completely new and different culture.

Thanks for sharing these inspiring stories! xo


45 Wendy McSwain February 29, 2012 at 11:35 am

The biggest leap I took was becoming an art major in college. I was always super smart and seemed to be heading into engineering or something of the like. I left my creative side take hold and studied art and concentrated on graphic design. That choice has allowed me to work in an exciting industry and now work from home while I take care of my little ones. The first leap seems to always lead to a better future.


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