Day Two – June 19, 2018 – I Never Thought I’d Ever

I never thought I’d ever…

Today, I’d like you to complete that sentence.

Write about something you did that you never thought you’d do. What did you do? Why did you do this? How did you feel doing this? How did you feel afterward? Did it change you in any way? What do you think doing this thing says about you?

I’m so curious to read today’s responses. If you feel comfortable, please share your piece with the community in the comments.

photo credit: tjabeljan BridgeBungyKawarau015 via photopin (license)

43 thoughts on “Day Two – June 19, 2018 – I Never Thought I’d Ever

  1. Linda Ricci

    Day 2 challenge – I never thought I’d ever…

    I spent a lot of time considering this challenge, read all of the prior submissions, and considered some more.

    My conclusion is that there is really nothing I ever thought I would never do.

    There are many things I would like to do, my thoughts are filled with all of the exciting opportunities and the thrill of having the time now that I am mostly retired.

    I was raised by wonderful hardworking parents ; a large family in a small town where we lived in the upper level of my grandparents home until I was twelve.
    It never occurred to me that we were poor in any way until I was grown and married.
    I always had enough to eat and we all had a new outfit every year for Easter and the start of school.
    Mom was a nurse who worked night shift so she could attempt to sleep on the couch and be with my little sisters during the day until they started full time school.
    Dad worked at a lumberyard during the day and by night he was a skilled, talented plaster mason creating works of art for the ceilings of so many people in our community.
    He needed 2 jobs because there were seven of us and he was so soft hearted he never charged what his craft should have netted and 5 growing girls need to eat.

    From these kind and loving people , I never heard the words “you can’t do it”.
    There was the occasion of course when I wanted to do something I shouldn’t but I never worried that I was not good enough or that anything was out of my reach if I worked for it.
    There are many things I tried and lost interest in or only did once because I could.
    Of course there are an abundance of places I have never seen; people I have not met; wonders I have yet to behold.
    The world around me is rich with possibility and anticipation.

    But I guess the answer to the statement that I never thought I’d ever is “find something I can’t do if I really want to”.

  2. Suzie Shaeffer

    I never thought I’d ever…

    You’ve had that dream, haven’t you? The one where you’re not earthbound? Most of the time when I dream I’m flying, it’s not with wings or fairy dust or even wires. No, I just have to move my feet in the correct pattern, like riding a bicycle only not quite, and I’m up in the air. Sometimes I’m so buoyant that if I’m inside I get trapped by the ceiling and have to pull myself down to a window to escape to the outside where there are no boundaries. If a ceiling keeps me too low, then people grab me by the ankles and pull me back to earth. If I wake up slow, when I’m still in that half-dream state, I’m convinced that I have it, that I’ve figured out how to fly. But when I’m fully awake, I never can remember that secret way to move my legs.

    My mother was born Gladys Pauline McMullen in 1925. She was quite young (five or six) when she saw an airplane up close for the first time. Her mother and a friend went to see the barnstormer who had landed in a fallow field just outside the little town of Rising Sun, Maryland. These barnstormers owned their own small single prop planes and made a living dusting crops and selling rides. Gladys’s baby sister had been left at home, but first born Gladys got to tag along. Airplanes were still a novelty and quite a crowd had gathered, with some lining up to pay a dollar apiece to take a short ride, including her mother and friend. Little Gladys was jubilant, she was going to fly! But when they got to the head of the line she discovered her mother planned to leave her on the ground with another friend. There was to be no flying for Gladys. That discovery set off a world-class hissy fit. There was no way on earth that her mother was going to get on that plane without her! The line stopped. People stared. The exasperated pilot finally spoke up, “Lady, it’s okay. She can sit on your lap and I won’t charge you a dime for her. Just get in the plane!” And that’s how my mother got to be the only child in Rising Sun to ride on an airplane. She said it gave her bragging rights for years.

    By the time I was born in 1948, planes were much more common. I flew on a commercial prop plane from California to Japan when I was six. Didn’t fly again until near the end of high school. It was great, going through the clouds and looking down at the patterns that the fields, rivers, houses and roads made far below. But it didn’t have that same touch of freedom that flying in my dreams had. I thought I could never experience true flying while awake.

    During one college summer vacation, a friend and I decided to spend five dollars each to take a sample flying lesson. We called the advertised number and made reservations for the next Saturday morning. When we went out to the small Ormond Beach Municipal Airport, there were two instructors and two single-prop planes waiting for us. My instructor walked me around the small plane for a flight check and then we climbed aboard, me in the pilot’s seat, he in the co-pilot’s position. I was greatly relieved when I learned that he also had a set of controls!

    He coached me through starting the engine, then we started down the short runway, going faster and faster. I kept wondering when he was going to take over, but he told me to gently pull back on the control and suddenly we were airborne, flying low over the trees at the end of the runway. The next twenty minutes or so were consumed by flying over the town, trying to pick out the landmarks below. Then it was time to return to the airport. The instructor started to coach me through the approach and landing. I was astonished and a good bit frightened. “Aren’t you going to take the controls; what if I make us crash?” He said, “Nope. You did the hard part when you took off. If you were going to crash, that’s when it would’ve happened. Landing is easy.”

    So I brought the plane in for a safe landing, He hadn’t touched his controls for the whole flight. I had flown! I did it myself, and I wasn’t even dreaming.

  3. Sarah Fine

    I never thought I’d ever go to El Salvador. I don’t think I even knew where it was or anything about it.

    As a child, our only trips were road trips in Canada and occasionally into the ‘States.’ As a 20 something, I went on my first plane trip to Europe. When I married, my husband planned our honeymoon and we went to Africa. When we had three children, it was back to road trips. That was until our son was 13 and we decided to go to El Salvador as part of his Bar Mitzvah.

    My husband’s cousin Elyse was living in San Salvador, the capital and largest city in this smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. Her husband worked for the American consulate and they lived in a gated (and guarded) community not far from his work.

    El Salvador lies along the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ and is subject to significant tectonic activity, including frequent earthquakes and volcanoes. On January 13, 2001 an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the ‘Richter scale’ caused a landslide that killed more than 800 people. A month later, a second earthquake killed another 255 people and damaged about 20% of the nation’s housing.

    Elyse knew about a small school of 430 children in the earthquake zone that had been damaged by landslides. The public education system in El Salvador was already severely lacking in resources and class sizes were as large as 50 children per classroom.

    I was teaching at the time and persuaded my school to raise funds for this school in San Vicente, El Salvador; and my son did the same at his school. We had decided to take the family there during March Break holiday with the $500 we had collected. Once we got to San Salvador, we bought pencils, pens, notebooks, crayons, magic markers, paints, construction paper, scissors, basketballs, soccer balls and softball equipment at a local store using a wish list the school principal gave Elyse.

    The next day, we hired a van and a driver to take us to San Vicente. The school consisted of two single story rectangular buildings 40 meters long and parallel to each other. Five classrooms (each about 10 meters square) had colorfully decorated doors, desks, blackboards and handmade posters of the lessons being taught to students in Grades 1 through 9. The teacher explained there were only 11 students in the Grade 9 class because most of the children that age had to work all day.

    We arrived at 9 am and about 230 children were waiting for recess which included a hot meal of tortillas. They had been there since 7:20 am and would be finished for the day at 11:50 am. A new group of 200 students would arrive at 1 pm and stay until 5 pm. The principal told us these were the poorest students and must work in the morning to make money to come to school.

    In the sparsely vegetated corridor of land between the two school buildings, a roofed porch serves as a stage for a Circus that is coming today to entertain the children. The staff and children bring chairs from the classroom to use as seats for the audience. They give us pop and crackers and thank us with a small speech to the audience. We are the warm up act for the Circus.

    The visit to this small school was the most important part of our trip to El Salvador.

  4. Kurt Newman

    I NEVER THOUGHT I’D EVER—learn I had a doppelgänger.

    People are more violently opposed to fur than leather
    because it’s safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs.
    ~ Alexi Sayle

    LEADER OF THE PACK

    Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

    Summer, 1988

    My wife was in a training program, which required her to be isolated from outside distractions—of which I was one. To surprise her upon her graduation, I booked us a weekend at the Mimslin Inn—advertised as an exclusive Bed and Breakfast deep in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

    When I picked her up after graduation, I refused to tell Eloise where we were headed or what was in store.

    Late that afternoon, we drove up a winding, tree-lined gravel road to a large, old Georgian-revival-style house perched atop a low hill. In the twilight, the imposing house cast a Gothic spell over the scene.

    Eloise spoke up, “What are you getting us into now, Kurt?”

    “A surprise.”

    “I don’t know.” Her voice betrayed a slight quaver. “This is really out in the boonies. And have you noticed all the motorcycles? It seems kinda sketchy to me.”

    Truth to be told, I had noticed “all the motorcycles.” Those were the only vehicles in sight along the road and parked under the white portico of the massive three-story inn that looked like an oversized antebellum plantation manor. The few lights showing through the windows lent a spooky air to the establishment. From the abundance of bikes, it looked like we were crashing a HOG convention, with huge Harleys left in every possible spot along the approach and around the main entrance. I was feeling a bit of trepidation too, but I wasn’t about to admit it.

    “This inn was highly recommended as a wonderful place for a couple to spend a quiet weekend. I’m sure it’s safe.”

    “I wouldn’t be too sure. Have you noticed the license tags on the bikes?”

    I focused on a few tags as we pulled under the portico. “Okay, so a lot are from New Jersey. Is that supposed to be ominous?”

    “Kurt, I’ve been checking as you drove up the hill. Not only are they all from Jersey, the tags all start with the same prefix—MSF. I can imagine what the first and last initials stand for. Who knows what nasty adjective they’ve thrown in the middle for sport. And the tags seem to be in numerical sequence. Lower down the road I saw the twenties and thirties—MSF-023, and 025, and 028, and so on. We just passed several in the teens, and look here scattered about under the porch roof. What do you see?”

    “Well, there’s MSF-001 next to the door and 002, 003, 004, and 005 are over there.” I pointed to a grouping parked in front of us. “What are you implying?”

    “That you’re leading us into a biker gang hangout. Let’s go somewhere else.”

    “Don’t be silly. This is a perfectly respectable place. A lot more so than many I’ve taken you to.”

    “But those were for a purpose. We don’t need to look for trouble unnecessarily. Let’s go. Please.”

    “This is for a purpose also. I’ve already paid in advance to hold our reservations. It isn’t cheap.”

    I opened my car door.

    “Kurt, please don’t go in there.”

    “Look, you wait here with the doors locked and the engine running. If I don’t come out within a few minutes, drive until you find a phone and call the police. I’m sure it will be okay.” I thought—I wish I were feeling as confident as I’m trying to sound.

    As I exited our car, Eloise slid behind the steering wheel and locked the doors.

    The large lobby was vacant. I went to the small reception counter and rang the bell to summon assistance.

    A man emerged from a backroom. “You must be Mr. Oldman.”

    “Yes. How did you know that?”

    “Because you’re the only guest we’re expecting who’s not with …” He nodded toward the barroom off from the lobby. “… a special party.” Loud voices rumbled through the doorway. The receptionist lowered his voice. “They were very insistent that they wanted to reserve the entire inn, but I told them that you’d already paid in advance and I couldn’t reach you to cancel your reservations.”

    “Who are they?”

    The clerk’s eyes shifted from me to the bar doorway and darted back to mine. “I can’t say.” He finished the registration formalities. “I’ve changed your room to the third floor. It’s a bit of a climb, but that way you shouldn’t be bothered by … the other guests.”

    “Thank you. I’ll get my wife from the car. By the way, my car’s sitting under your portico and I don’t see any unoccupied space to move it to.”

    “Just leave it there. We don’t expect any more cars all weekend.”

    Back at the car, I convinced Eloise that all the other guests were keeping to themselves in the bar, and I’d gotten us a room on the top floor so they wouldn’t even notice us. How wrong I was.

    As we hauled our bags into the lobby and headed for the elaborate Tara-style staircase, a man’s stern voice barked, “Steve! Steve! What are you doing here? Does the old man know?”

    I looked back and saw that the stentorian voice emanated from a rough-looking customer standing in the doorway of the bar. He was staring directly at me.

    “Are you speaking to me?” I stammered.

    “Oh. Sorry. I mistook you for … somebody I know.”

    Another equally tough-looking guy stepped from the door and gaped at me. He turned to face into the bar and called out, “Boss, you have to see this.” This second man disappeared back into the barroom.

    We couldn’t see into the bar, but we couldn’t help noticing how quiet it got.

    A third man came out of the bar and approached us. “The boss has invited you both to come join him for a drink.”

    I glanced at Eloise. She gave me a see—what-did-I-tell-you look.

    I answered the third man, “Please tell your boss that we regretfully decline his kind invitation. We’re tired from a long drive.”

    The man gestured for us to follow him.

    I continued, “Plus we haven’t seen each other for several weeks and we just want to spend some time alone.”

    Mr. Rough and Mr. Tough headed our way.

    I added, “We probably won’t even leave our room until tomorrow. We surely wouldn’t want to impose on your party.”

    The third man said, “But the boss insists. He’s used to getting what he wants.”

    “Well, you are most persuasive. Maybe one little drink.” I looked at Eloise. “What’s the harm in that, right?”

    Her look screamed, We’ll discuss this later.

    The three men escorted us to the bar. It was a long room and all the tables had been pushed together into one long table parallel to the back wall, like a super-sized Last Supper, but with a lot more disciples. All these disciples were paying deference to the older man in Jesus’ place in the middle. This must be “The Boss” about whom we’d heard so much recently. He studied us—looking especially hard at me—and nodded.

    In silent obeisance to a subtle gesture from the boss, the two disciples in John’s and James’s places—at either side of the boss—rose to make room for Eloise and me at the boss’ left and right hand.

    He rose slightly from his seat to extend his hand in greeting, “Welcome. I’m Malcolm.” He poured us beer from one of the numerous pitchers scattered around the table.

    I introduced Eloise and myself.

    The boss toasted our arrival and invited us to join his party for dinner later that evening. We declined his invitation, politely, but joined him in enjoying the beer. Our tension faded quickly as we were made to feel as if we’d passed muster and had been accepted into his gang.

    The beer relaxed us sufficiently that we felt at ease asking questions to satisfy our curiosity. It turned out our host was Malcolm S. Forbes—one of the world’s richest men. He was in the valley to indulge one of his passions—hot air ballooning. He and his personal motorcycle gang—the Capitalist Tools, another of MSF’s passions—were launching balloons the next morning.

    Eloise wanted to know, “Will Liz be here with you?” Although we hadn’t recognized MSF, practically the whole world knew that he and Liz Taylor were “an item,” as the Enquirer might put it.

    “No, this outing is just for the boys. You, my dear, will be the only woman in the Inn all weekend.” Before the weekend was finished, one of the members of his party had confided that MSF was intrigued by the resemblance I bore to his son, Steve.

  5. Barbara Spieker

    Texting. I never thought I would ever text. I thought it was absolutely ridiculous and a sign of society running further amok. I first became aware of texting from stories or images I heard of somewhere where teenagers were spending all their time “texting.” Never heard of it, not sure what it was. Then I remember hearing about younger people getting arthritic type problems in their fingers from constantly texting. Oh for God’s Sake, I thought. But it was a very remote problem. To me that is.
    At the time of the texting flare I didn’t even own a cell phone anymore. I didn’t need one. I worked at home, had a reliable car, had a land line phone and my thoughts were that if “you” wanted to reach me you can call me on the phone or email me. I’m home all day and most nights… I will do the same to try and reach you. Of course, you could also send a letter but I knew better than to use that as an argument. In the 1980’s already Victoria Magazine and others were lamenting the loss of letter writing as a skill and of a nostalgic record.
    I didn’t realize that the point was NOT to have to have to talk to anyone. They didn’t want to actually reach you and talk with you. I suppose it is also important to know that I am an introvert by nature. I don’t need a lot of people contact and I don’t go a lot of places just to be out there or just to experience something. My good friends were all that I needed and they would call me.
    So life went on. Me in my little isolated world, working away, enjoying my garden, reading, and being borderline anti-social. I had a job where I was on the phone all day and that drained me. I didn’t really even email anymore. You would think texting would be the perfect thing for me.
    One day, as I was spouting my opinion on the idiocy and corruption of texting as a way of communication and relating to others, my cousin made a comment about his children. He said if he hadn’t learned to text he would never hear from his kids or know what was going on. My immediate reaction was, well, it’s their loss, let’s not encourage this aberrant behavior by giving in. I don’t have children so I didn’t have to worry about that.
    We are a small family though and as time went by there was instance after instance where I grudgingly accepted that texting might be a necessary evil. Finally, I asked my cousin to show me how to text. I couldn’t believe it! The complete utter stupidity of communicating with people by punching in one letter of a word at a time to form sentences, taking absolutely forever, when you could just call the person on the phone, say what you wanted and hang up. Or, if you were really terrified of speaking to them, leave an email. I was floored. This is what people are doing? This is how people are talking to each other now?! So, I further refused to participate. Finding out that people were forgetting how to spell, or never learning because texting had its shortcuts, that kids couldn’t speak in sentences or write sentences fueled my resolve never to do it.
    I still believe all those things. I still think how absurd it is to punch in one letter a time to say something to someone in a way that is impossible to get up much speed, as in typing unless you want to ruin your thumbs. I still think it is a sign of the deterioration of society and a practice that will disable our youth from communicating in jobs and one to one relationships. Unless they sit on the couch and text each other instead of talking. (Sorry, that’s an old joke) I am aware that people with smart phones can now speak their texts. Well duh, isn’t that what you do when you phone someone and leave a message? But then you do run the risk of actually having to speak with somebody I suppose. God Forbid, they might answer the phone.
    I can’t believe that now I do text when I have too. When it makes sense to do so. I have given in. But not completely! I still have a flip phone!

  6. Jeanne Sullivan

    June 19 2018
    Today’s prompt is to write about something we did that we never thought we would. I have done a lot of things in my life not thinking ahead. I was always doing something I had never done before. Not that I was wild or crazy, well maybe a little; I liked learning or trying something new.
    My husband and I lived two years on a sailboat after selling an old inn in Massachusetts. We moved to Connecticut where most of my family lived, bought an old house, proceeded to restore it over the next couple of years.
    My husband liked to travel more than I did. Someone put the idea in his head that I would like traveling better in an RV. We bought a medium sized one so that I would be able to drive it too. After a few trips our only complaint was that if we wanted to go anywhere we had to take the RV. We had no car to haul behind us. We finally met several other travelers with various modes of transportation when they reached their destination. One of the best things we saw was a small scooter on the back of an RV. The owners had made a rig to carry it on the back of the RV. My husband now wanted to get a similar scooter and rig. Of course we did just that. It was an 180CC Yamaha and it would carry both of us. My husband got a license to drive it and every time we stopped in our travels we ended up unloading the scooter and traveling all over the area. We must have been quite a sight on that little scooter but we were having a great time. Once in Canada we saw signs for a folk festival. Let’s go. We traveled about 30 miles to the festival on the scooter. By the way it was a fun festival that lasted until dark.
    Anyway, my husband liked the scooter so much that he decided he would like a small motorcycle to travel to work. He bought a 750cc Yamaha. I decided he shouldn’t have all the fun so I got my license and took over the scooter. We rode together every night after supper.
    Now I must tell you at that time I was 55 years young and my husband was 60. Neither of us had much experience with motorcycles. In fact I had none. Never even had a ride on one. I thought motorcyclists were like you see in the movies. You know tough, crude, looking for trouble. We joined a small motorcycle club. We were the oldest members. They were patient and kind as I learned to ride. We continued to take many trips with our RV now pulling a trailer with 2 bikes on the back.
    My husband bought me a small motorcycle, 250cc. We planned to take a two month trip across the US and part of Canada. As before we would pull into a camp ground, unload the bikes and explore the area for a couple of days. We spent much of the time in various Federal Parks, Yellowstone, and Glacier etc.
    When we decided to retire we moved to Florida. We had spent two months in the winter there and found a house. We went back to Connecticut, sold the house and moved to Florida.
    Now we had lots of leisure time to travel and did so now on the bikes, no RV. Me now on a 750cc Yamaha, my husband on a 1200cc Honda Goldwing.
    We rode our bikes in almost every state except Alaska and Hawaii. We did go to Nova Scotia and Mexico as well. I never thought of myself as a motorcycle mama or I should say Grandma and Great Grandma.
    I was almost 80 years old when I stopped riding. Now I had an 1100cc Yamaha and my husband had a 1500cc Honda Goldwing. After major back surgery I felt that if I had an accident on the bike I could end up in serious trouble as I have rods and screws in my back.
    My husband continued to ride until he was about 84. He was going blind and could no longer ride or drive.
    I lost him last November to lung cancer but I still have great memories of all the adventures we had. I never would have thought we would spend our retirement years on a motorcycle rather than in a rocking chair watching life go by.

    1. Barbara Spieker

      It sounds like you have had an adventurous life in your own way. To be almost 80 and still be biking is wonderful! I’m sorry you lost your adventure partner.

  7. Lois Patton

    I Never Thought…
    I never thought I would be the mother of my husband when we married over sixty years ago, at age twenty-one. Our two A-type personalities made for interesting times early on. Gradually, we learned to lean on each other’s strengths, respecting each other for our abilities and talents.
    For almost twenty years before retirement we ran our own consulting and training business. We laughingly told others I held the position of Vice President and Chairman of the Board, his business card carried the title of President. We each worked with our own clients, but I also functioned as administrator of the business, including the managing of our employees. Friends would marvel that a married couple could get along in business together. We seldom had any conflict and celebrated each other’s achievements.
    That was then, this is now. “Honey, I think you should get dressed now. Remember, clean underwear and put on something comfortable. We’re not going anywhere today.”
    I use the word “remember” often, as a way to gently remind him of what I know he has forgotten. The small white board with the day and date at the top lists “what’s on today.” Still, I prepare for the questions: What day is it? What’s on the agenda?” When we meet with the neurologist, he is unable to say what season it is or repeat the three words the doctor asked him to remember one minute before. Keeping straight the recycling bin vs. the garbage is a daily struggle for him. I dispense his meds, schedule the doctor appointments, handle all our investments and the business of living. He often thanks me for taking such good care of him.
    I set aside my role as mother each evening before dinner when we play gin. He keeps score and wins as often as I. He insists on doing the dishes, I leave it all to him. When he wraps me in his arms and tells me how beautiful I am and how much he loves me, I treasure that moment when I can set aside my role as his mother.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Oh Lois, this heart-felt story will touch the hearts and ring true for so many. You are brave, beautiful being. Keep writing this story and others of your journey.

    2. Terry Deer

      Lovely, just lovely. So many of us dread that something like this might be in our future, but you have showed us the beauty as well as the sorrow in actually living it. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  8. Judi Graham

    Prompt 2 – I didn’t think I’d ever…

    When we are young we plan out our lives, what we want to do, where we want to go and with whom, our weddings, how many children we will have. I don’t think girls do that anymore and I’m glad of it. Very little that I planned came to be.

    I never thought the sweet boy I dated all through high school would turn out to be abusive, but he did. I thought he would go to work every day, just like me, and we could bank a lot of our money and buy a house, but he didn’t. I never thought I would leave New York, but then we did.

    Our second child was asthmatic, and he couldn’t handle the cold, he couldn’t breathe, so I had to keep him in the house all winter. Finally the doctor said we had to take him somewhere warmer or he wouldn’t live to be 16. So we did. We moved to Florida.

    I thought I was done having children, but I wasn’t. The fourth one was born in Florida and she too was asthmatic, but she outgrew it. I thought I’d never get away from the beatings, but finally I left him and got a job on a ranch, where I could have my children with me. Another surprise. I was always a fan of westerns, so it was like living my dream.

    Finally I was able to support my children out in the real world and they grew, became parents, and had children. Grandchildren were wonderful, and so are great grandchildren.

    I did these things because I had to, to survive. I was relieved when the hard part was over. Did it change me? Of course. I was a prim and proper, don’t get your hands dirty kind of girl. I changed into what my brother called “a hard woman.” Well you can’t work on a ranch and be a good two shoes! I think the way I changed the most was getting a whole new education in life, and I hope what it says about me is that I am a far better person for having had all these experiences.

  9. Kaye Byrnes

    Life is a funny thing. You’re trucking along thinking everything is either really great or really bad, and in a moment it makes a 180-degree turn. Change is sometimes consciously chosen, more often, it is unexpected; a job is lost, your lottery ticket hits the jackpot, you’re sideswiped by an inattentive driver, a starving kitten wanders into your driveway. Some change can seem so minor as to be inconsequential while others seem overwhelmingly significant. Change is a constant force, pushing and pulling us in new directions. Change creates the opportunity to redefine both our self and our life.

    At 12 years old I proclaimed to my family, “I will never, ever have kids!” I was the seventh of nine siblings, spent most of my childhood around baby nephews and nieces. Never did I harbor illusions about the joys of motherhood. I knew all about dirty diapers, colic, inconvenience and sacrifice. “Why would anyone want that?” was the unanswerable question that took up residence in my teens. I was smart enough to get myself to Planned Parenthood when I “attached” to an early boyfriend.

    Thanks to birth control, my biological clock was ticking quietly in time to my life as a DINK: Double Income No Kids. Now married, I had a successful corporate career, good health and complete freedom. But as the fine print on the pill pack advised, no birth control is 100% effective.

    At the age of 38, in the winter of my reproductive years, I missed three consecutive cycles. The words of the doctor are etched in my memory. “Would it be such a terrible thing if you were pregnant?” “Yes, it would. It definitely would” was my answer. I burst into tears at the news.

    As I began to share the news, anyone who knew me was shocked. My mother’s reaction was an amused “Oh, for Pete’s sake!” The first ultrasound, seeing that heartbeat, brought home the reality of my condition and again a flood of tears. Then came movement, a surreal sensation of the life within me. Converting the guest room to a nursery, sitting through birthing classes, watching my feet disappear beneath my expansion; the journey to delivery was marked by foreign and unsettling experiences.

    The due date was December 21. A good project manager operates on a timeline and I was ready; last day of work December 2, Mom arrives December 14, plenty of time for last minute preparation. But at 4:00AM on December 6, I awoke to the beginning of labor. Suddenly, I didn’t feel quite so ready.

    By 4:00PM I was in the hospital. I thought the birthing classes were supposed to prepare one for this experience! As my labor progressed, I revisited all the reasons I never wanted children and seriously wondered how human life had managed to propagate over the millennia. The epidural missed the mark, never kicked in. I found little comfort in watching the contraction monitor, breathing through the pain. It seemed to last forever, time had slowed to a crawl. By 10:00PM my doctor was recommending a C-section, things were not unfolding as expected. With no hesitation, I agreed.

    Prepped for surgery, wheeled down the hall, nurses scurrying about, a spinal block injection, bright lights, a drape hung between my head and my doctor. I felt a curious mix of fear and relief. The excruciating pain of labor had ceased, now only my mind connected me to the process. It didn’t take long.

    I saw the nurses smile; I heard the cry. The doctor happily announced, “It’s a beautiful boy!” I laid there on the gurney, waiting. As a nurse raised that platform, another gently placed my son into my arms. I never thought that I would be a mother but I looked into his eyes and in that moment life was changed forever.

    1. Barbara Spieker

      Ha! A familiar story to me, and nicely written. What happened to the friend who resoundedly cried “NO, NO, NO!” in public when you told her you were pregnant? Your partner in the no children ever group.

      1. Cheryl Floyd

        Oh Barbara, you and I have heard versions of this tale before. Yes, nicely written Kaye. HA! HA! And what a fine young man that baby boy has grown into.

  10. Vera Zimmerman

    Day 2 – I never thought I’d ever

    I’ve done a lot of things I never thought I’d ever do when I was growing up in New Orleans. I guess the most adventurous one was joining an archaeological project on the island of San Salvador.

    In 1990 I had just turned fifty and made a list of several things I wanted to do before it was too late. The next day I read about an archaeologist named Charlie Hoffman who was leading a group of volunteers on a dig to look for Columbus’s first landing site. If I don’t do this now, I’m never going to do it, I thought. My husband was still working so I’d be on my own with a group of complete strangers. I had a degree in Anthropology and Art and had participated in local digs as a volunteer so I thought I had some skills to offer. I filled out the application and waited.

    In a few weeks I found out I was accepted and started making arrangements. I could hardly believe it when the charter plane touched down at the small airstrip on San Salvador, down on the southern end of the Bahamas. Known until 1925 as Watlings Island, it is barely 60 square miles in area. The project crew was based at an old Air Force down-range station from the early days of the space program. I was familiar enough with that since my husband worked for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center and I had heard and read stories about that time. It turned out that Charlie Hoffman had worked in the space program at Cape Canaveral back in the early 1960’s and had even belonged to the same volunteer archaeology group that I did, The Indian River Anthropological Society. He told me that was one reason he had selected me to join the group.

    There was a group of about six students in addition to Charlie, his wife, an assistant and a photographer, none as old as me. Our routine was to work at the dig site in the morning. We took turns in the test pit, carefully scraping away years of sand, and screening that sand for artifacts. In the afternoon we took a trip to one of the white sand beaches for a swim in the extraordinary turquoise Caribbean water. Then we went back to the base and, after dinner in the cafeteria, worked in the lab, cleaning, sorting, identifying and cataloging the day’s finds.

    We spent time reading about Spanish exploration in the area and discussing the various theories of which island was the first landing site. Photography is one of my loves and I had plenty of opportunities to take pictures of the island and its people as well as the dig site. I also had time to do some sketching.

    On our last beach trip I stood and looked out at the ocean and wondered what it must have been like to be one of the native Lucayans, spotting a strange ship with billowing sails heading toward the beach.

    Charlie made time to take us in the project van to a couple of local restaurants and bars where we got to know the locals. It’s a very small island, barely 60 square miles in area with a population of about 800 people. By the end of my stay I was ready to sign up for the next year. Did we find anything to prove that Columbus landed there? Well, maybe… There was a small Spanish coin that dated to the right period, and glass beads like the ones the Spanish gave to the local people. They could have been left by Columbus and his crew in 1492 or by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 when he stopped at San Salvador on his way to Florida. Maybe next year we’d find more.

  11. Norma Beasley

    Day 2: I Never Thought I’d ever…
    The cover of my yellow hardbound textbook with its tattered edges and torn spine, featured a faded detail from Georges Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on Grande Jatte Island, better known as Art Through the Ages. Gardner’s 4th edition, used in my art class as a college student, was a fascinating repertoire of art, architecture, and sculpture in different parts of the world. For some reason I embraced the cave paintings, Egyptian, Greek and Roman art. I grew to love Greek mythology.
    I never thought I’d ever have the opportunity to visit Greece, Athens, Epidaurus, the Erechtheion, the Acropolis, Delphi, Crete, and all of the other fascinating aspects of Greece. And so the idea fell fallow in the corridors of my mind until fifty years later when I found myself peering through the taxi window scanning the horizon for the Parthenon, as Karen, a friend of mine, winged our way to the Herodion, our home away from home. It was a group tour we were participating in. Suddenly, I cried out, “There it is. Just like the history book pictured it long ago.” In fact, at night the Parthenon was magnificent—bathed in bright light for all to see. I stood on the patio of our hotel in awe.
    The next day I stood on hallowed ground gazing at Athens in blinding white light at midday against a deep blue sky. From the highest pinnacle in the city, I turned 360 degrees admiring the city beautiful from the Parthenon.
    Several days later as the big bird soared towards New York, I turned to wave goodbye. My journey was like visiting an old friend or wearing an old pair of comfy shoes. A smile crosses my face as I write this…grateful to have had the opportunity and hopeful of a future reunion. Dreams do come true.

    1. Lois Patton

      I identity completely! For me, the unimaginable experience of seeing Michelangelo’s “David” in Florence brought unbidden tears streaming down my checks. I never thought I would see the” real” David.

  12. Terry Deer

    I never thought I’d ever be a missionary, but sometimes your heart gets turned around in unexpected ways. When the leader of our twice-a-year church mission trips to Honduras invited me to take part last October, my first reaction was not merely “no” but “[expletive deleted] no!” I love to travel but knew that this would be no pleasure trip; I understood perhaps three words of Spanish; I could all too easily see myself as the elderly team member who breaks a hip on a cobbled street (yes, that happened to a woman on an earlier trip). All good reasons to say no, or so I thought. Yet, within a week, I was calling the leader back and saying, “About that mission trip …” Never mind that I had no notion of why I was going or how I could help; my heart had turned and I wanted to be a part of it.

    I tried to enter Honduras without expectations, to accept what the country offered and to set aside my North American ideas of how one should live. I knew I would be confronted with poverty. The divide between the wealthy (few) and the poor (many) showed in the houses surrounded by walls and barbed wire as well as the shacks put together out of sheets of tar paper and corrugated metal. The Pan American highway, a rough two-lane road that the natives treated as though it had at least three lanes, was dotted with tiny fruit stands and families begging handouts for their work of filling in the potholes. Those images remain fresh. However, that’s not even close to the whole story. I met people who, having little, were happy to share it with strangers. While our group was there, two local men were killed in a motorcycle accident; the entire community packed the church for the funeral service and streamed through the streets on the way to the cemetery afterward. Traveling the roads in an aged Bluebird bus (Honduras is where school buses go to die) was hair-raising for someone used to four-lane highways and traffic lights, but what I remember is the way the drivers looked out for one another and generously gave way. Road rage? I never saw a sign of it. Hondurans understand community and the importance of stopping on a busy day to share a few words with a neighbor.

    Our team was there to “come alongside” Marlene, the lay pastor of our sister church of St. Michael Archangel in Ojo de Agua, a small town to the east of Tegucigalpa, and help her plan and present a retreat for the new members of her congregation. On the day of the event, the team and the locals gathered in San Miguel’s beautifully plain sanctuary for eight hours of song and inspiration delivered in English and Spanish. I stood hand in hand with people whose language I did know know and who did not know my language, and felt the truth of what our mission leader had predicted: we would finish by not knowing where Honduran stopped and North American began.

  13. Cindi Lynch

    Writing Challenge – Day 2

    I never thought I’d ever…get a tattoo.

    And now I have two!

    It all began after my 49th birthday.

    I’m predictable, steady, don’t want to upset the apple cart. I like to plan ahead and stick with the plan. Even the way I dress…conservative, expected. Nothing that will draw attention to myself.

    Knowing all that, I wanted to do something really outside my comfort zone. Something unexpected. Something no one would dream I’d ever do. And it came down to two things: skydive or get a tattoo.

    And the tattoo won out because the fear factor was so much less than it would have been if I tried to jump out of an airplane.

    Besides doing something totally unexpected, I wanted to do something bold. And a tattoo seemed to be the right answer.

    After checking with the hubster to be sure he didn’t mind), then began the task of finding a reputable place. A little research pointed the way to what turned out to be everything you imagine a tattoo parlor would be: a kind of run down place in the icky part of town where all the workers had spikey, colorful hair and bodies filled with ink and studs.

    Appointment made, I still had to come up with a design. I knew where (back of the neck). After all, if I was getting a tattoo, I wanted it to be seen, but in a subtle way. I also knew I wanted something pretty and feminine. And it had to be meaningful. If I was placing a permanent picture on my body I wanted to be sure I would be happy with it for my remaining years.

    Figuring out the “what” turned out to be the most difficult part. It finally came down to a single hibiscus bloom—a photo I had taken of one at a friend’s house.

    On that “day” I went by myself. This was my 50th birthday adventure. My deed. My attempt to shock my friends and family who know me so well. Ha, I sure was going to surprise them. And I did.

    Hurt? Why, yes…yes, it did. But not terribly. Happy with it? Yes, except it turned out much bigger than I imagined. I pictured a one-inch square flower and it ended up being over two inches square.

    Home to show the hubby and then time to take and send pictures to the kids. Both kids were in their 20s and no longer living at home so it would be several weeks before they could see the new artwork in person.

    And I definitely got the reaction I was hoping for: shock and amazement. Both kids were supportive but truly, truly surprised. And that was kind of what I was going for. I wanted them to see their mom could be fun and cool and change with the times. (I’m fairly certain my COOL FACTOR rose a few degrees that day!)

    And despite thinking one tattoo was enough, a few years later I did get one more…a red heart (small this time) that covers up an equally small port wine birthmark on my arm.

    These tattoos are not earth-shattering news. But they did everything I hoped they would do: they showed others, and myself, that I could indeed embrace change and new ideas.

    1. Terry Deer

      Cindi, I’m in awe of your courage! And you tell the story in such an engaging way that I can almost (almost) imagine getting a tattoo of my own. Almost.

  14. Ericka Parra

    The piece I am sharing is part of a book I am trying to accomplish one day. Have a happy writing day!

    A Rural Teacher

    She never thought she’d ever would be a rural teacher. In those days, at the beginning of the twentieth century, women did not have any other choices. She was twenty-two years old: she was not married yet. After the indigenous president Benito Juarez declared the separation between the Church and the Government, there were many efforts to educate all women from different backgrounds. However, in small towns, women were still educated following the Church guidelines. The main textbook was the Bible and most of the women from poor backgrounds were educated to serve the rich and powerful people from those places. “Did they have a salary?” “They did not always have a minimum salary.” The regulation of salaries was stipulated later, in the Constitution of 1917 under the article 27.

    She had privileges. Her father had friendly relations with the priest in the main town Libres, which was a small town close to the biggest train station that connected Mexico City with the Port of Veracruz. Indeed, the nuns allowed her to teach Sunday school. Nevertheless, sometimes she helped the nuns with the books. Those activities allowed her to become an expert in numbers and management. Sometimes, she had the opportunity to read old newspapers the train travelers left behind. Thus, through her early youth many books and information influenced her pedagogical profile. When the Mexican Revolution ended, she was ready to become a teacher: a dream she never thought it could come true.

  15. Regina Russell

    I never thought I’d ever get out of that situation. But on Monday I was longing to back to California, get the surgery I needed, and then…

    Then what? I didn’t have a place to live, I just knew I had the insurance. So I went to U-Haul and put down a $500 dollar deposit. Tuesday I woke up to yet another nightmare. So I went to King Soopers, got a warn donut, went to U-Haul, got it hooked up and went back to the apartment to start packing. by now it’s freezing, because this is Denver and the temperature dropped to 11 degrees. I asked a neighbor to help me get the harp in the back. All this by noon, because I knew she would come home at noon to feed the dog. I stopped by the front office, the one she told me never to go to, I didn’t care about the consequences anymore. I gave them the mail key, told them what happened and took off. From there, I got a new phone at Target, and then stopped by the music store to drop off the harp, because, where was I going to live? I got to Colorado Springs in a snow storm, ate broccoli and mozzarella cheese sticks at the Denny’s across the street, emailed her to never contact me again and then left the next morning for Arizona. That took guts. the same guts inside me to create a great future for myself.

    I never thought I’d ever be able to stop caring what others think about me, because they don’t know. They don’t know the depths, maybe in their own struggle they do-i guess I could have some compassion.

    Yeah, I got degrees, certifications, I play the harp, I volunteer, I taught a class at the library, I keep waking up and facing the day. I guess that’s my “I never thought I’d ever…”

    I never thought i’d be able to wake up and face another day-but I did.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Regina, your story created a curiosity in me about the horrible situation that led to your brave exit. Sometimes facing the next day can be scary.

    2. Ericka Parra

      Regina! Congratulations! What an inspiring story. Definitely, it was impressive to move to another place facing not only the environmental storm but your own challenges and determination. Wow!

  16. Cheryl Floyd

    I have written on this topic before, so I won’t go into great detail. I do want to create a five-minute performance piece from the following experience. I will continue to flesh it out.

    I never thought I’d ever: Skydive and I haven’t. Scuba dive and I haven’t. Climb a mountain and I haven’t. Go white water rafting and I have! Yep, that’s right, I did. It was a surprise gift for this non-adventure seeking gal.

    We were on an aimless travel trip; one of those, “Let’s just get in the car and go.” While visiting Chattanooga, Tennessee, my husband, Rod disappeared for a while. That was not unusual, but when he returned he said, “I have tomorrow all figured out, come on, I am driving.” After a beautiful drive along a lush, green forested winding road with gorgeous peeks of the Ocoee River we arrived in Ducktown, Tennessee. Rod pulled up to a single story cheap motel and I said, “No way!” Then we discovered the historical part of town. Fortunately, there was room available at a majestic historical bed and breakfast inn. We rented a lovely king suite with a twin bed for our daughter. Perfect. I enjoyed a peaceful evening rocking on the front porch wrapped in a blanket reading until the sun set.

    The next morning, at the communal breakfast table, my dear husband revealed his surprise: white-water rafting tickets for all of us. Again, but with more emphasis I said, “No way!” And our teenage daughter chimed in agreement with me. But everyone else at the table convinced us to explore the once-in-a-lifetime experience. They assured us we would love it and return for more.

    Within the first three minutes of rafting I sailed right out of that glorified bounce-house on water. As I flew through the air with no time to think of actions to take; I saw my life flash before me. Once I hit the water a flash of our brief video instructions jolted into mind, “In case you are thrown out of the raft, remember two things: feet first and hold your paddle across your chest; never let go of your paddle.” So there I was adrift in an abyss. Well not exactly. Not like in the movies where a singular raft speeds along the rapids. Surrounding my screaming, cussing, floating terrified self were colorful, tour-guided rafts filled with adventure seeking tourists feverishly paddling toward me. Not the center stage I ever want to be on again, every eye seemed to be on me. Following the screams coming from my terrified daughter I located my launch pad. Wait! Where’s our guide? Later I learned, when I bounced up he tried to rescue me and flew out also. Hey, that makes sense to me, he should have rescued me.

    All those red, orange and green bobbing rafts guided by their personal experts funneled around and ushered me to my raft, where I not so gracefully remounted the bouncing bullet. Shortly after, among humiliating jeers and teasing our guide slid back on without a comment. Apparently, losing a rafter is one thing, flying after the rafter was not part of his job description and the other guides taunted and teased him for abandoning ship.

    With my own humiliation set aside, I managed to remain in the raft, stay afloat and have an exhilarating experience for the remainder of the water journey. I never thought I’d ever go white water rafting, but I did!

    1. Ericka Parra

      Cheryl, It is impressive you did challenge yourself. I am always in my comfort zone reading a book. Sometimes, I wish I could experience water-rafting. Still on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Terry Deer

      That one is definitely on my bucket list! Your description of the experience is vivid; you even make the mishap sound (in retrospect at least) like fun. Can mountain climbing be far behind?

      1. Cheryl Floyd

        Terry, I remain open to the mountain more than anything related to water adventures. But it would have to be a small mountain. HA. Or one with a reverse lift to bring me back downhill.

  17. Judy Watkins

    Day 2
    Life’s Surprises

    Life didn’t start out well for me so my expectations were low. I didn’t realize until I was an adult that our family was the other side of the tracks trash. I married at sixteen and although my life was better, we lived from payday to payday. I married in 1956 and times and expectations were different then than they would be today. I was a stay at home wife and mother and my husband was the family’s bread winner.

    When I was young girls did not expect to go to college. If the dream was more than getting married, having babies and living happily ever after then there was something wrong with the girl. Since I quit school two years before graduation, my life and goals were set in concrete before me.

    How could I have ever guessed that life held grand things for me? After twenty years of marriage I knew I wanted and needed more, but more of what? I had no idea what the possibilities might be. I was a very shy and introverted woman but I pulled myself together and went to a temp agency to ask if I was qualified for any type of job. At the agency I was tested and somehow whatever I learned in high school was still there and they placed me as an accounting clerk in a small manufacturing company. That company liked me and hired me after only two weeks on the job. My new employer encouraged their employees to take college classes and they paid for all the tuition and books. How could an offer like that be turned down? I went to school just to take a class or two and perform better on my current job. How could I have ever guessed that I would go to night school two nights a week for twelve years? At 48 years old I proudly had an MBA and I was a Senior Cost Accountant in a very large electronic manufacturing company. My life was more than any dream I had ever dared to dream.

    But the surprises in life did not end there. When I was nearing 60 my husband and I dared to consider an international vacation. We heard of people doing that but never expected that we would ever want to go or that we would ever be able to afford such a venture, but life had been good and we decided to try “just one trip”. After much consideration we chose to go to Australia and New Zealand on a three week land tour. Is it necessary to say that traveling is addictive? How could anybody stop with just one? Over the years we have taken many trips to grand places like Egypt, the Britsh Isles and much of Europe.

    Our traveling days are over due to age and health (and inflation). We have been blessed with a much grander life than our dreams ever imagined and our memories will be with us forever.

    1. Cheryl Floyd

      Wow, Judy. That’s an amazing success story. You are an inspiration and this story needs to be shared. I too came from a family with low expectations, from poverty I wasn’t expected to ever go to college. I am grateful for stories like yours. Thank you for sharing. There’s a book in your life story, for sure.

      1. Lois Patton

        I hope you are writing a memoir of your experience pursuing an education through what must have been hectic times in your life. Your family deserves to have it all recorded. And good for you branching out to world travel. Bet you have many stories to write about that, as well.

  18. nancy nelson

    I NEVER THOUGHT I’D EVER…..

    My parents were both college graduates so I grew up knowing I would attend college. The only question was where? I chose a small liberal arts school in the Midwest. During those years my foremost plans were to get married and have children My fields of study were Education and Psychology, careers that I could “fall back on” if my husband was to become disabled or died. Upon graduation i married my boyfriend of seven years and eagerly became a 4th grade teacher on his insistence. After seven years of marriage we finally had children. My life goals were complete!

    But life has a way of providing challenges and opportunities that completely alter one’s expectations. I eagerly said “yes” to eveything that came my way and panicked later. None of my challenges did I seek out but found myself agreeing to them anyway.

    I never thought I’d ever travel to Europe by myself, but I did following college graduation.
    I never thought I’d ever obtain a master’s degree but was challenged by an advisor to pursue it.
    I never thought I’d ever become a family therapist but was encouraged by the leader of a workshop I attended. She became my teacher and supervisor.
    I never thought I’d ever become a college professor but accepted an adjunct position for one semester. The following spring I was hired full-time.
    I never thought I’d ever receive a Phd, but I wanted to remain at the institution where i was teaching so agreed to obtain the terminal degree in my field.
    I never thought I’d ever fly a plane as I had a big fear of flying. Because my husband was taking lessons and wanted me to accompany him, I agreed to try and overcome my fears. It took a year, but I did and eventually received my license. This became a metephor for my life–facing and overcoming a huge challenge.

    Throughout my life I have been blessed with incredible life experiences. There are many more examples of activities I never thought I would do. I am so grateful I was not afraid to say “yes” to those opportunities presented to me. By accepting them my life has been greatly enriched.
    Nancy Nelson

    1. Ericka Parra

      Nancy, what a coincidence. Although you had another choice: Psychology. My father encouraged me to go for Education. The same reasons: what if your husband… or what if you get pregnant… Interesting life. Go Nancy!

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