This will be my first Toastmaster talk. I will give it next week! It’s only supposed to be 4-6 minutes. I’m worried it will go over, especially if I try to pause at appropriate places. I hope I’m not so worried that I run it all together into one long sentence, without stopping for breaths. Then I’ll pass out. Oh! Don’t think about it!!!! You’ll be fine. Breathe!
Life is an Adventure: My Life Story
G. K. Chesterton said, “An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.”
From the youngest age, I thought of life as an adventure. I never knew what would happen later in the day or the next day.
One of my earliest memories is of my first solitary adventure. I was four years old. My father was in the Coast Guard, and we lived in a trailer, in Training Center Petaluma in California. At the end of the street grew a big field of tall grass that swayed with the wind. Behind the field stood a row of tall trees, the entrance to what I thought of as a fairytale woods. One day, I decided to explore. (Not sure where Mom was or why she let me wander off, but it was a tiny street with fields all around it). So there I was with blue sky and white clouds above me, pushing through grass that went over my head, no longer able see the line of trees, but certain I headed in the right direction. Maybe halfway through, I stumbled upon a circle of flattened grass and a baby deer. I’d never seen a fawn up close. My heart leaped and I stumbled back. The fawn jumped up too and ran in the opposite direction.
I never made it to the fairytale woods, but the experience left me with the impression that life is an adventure and you never know what you’ll stumble upon.
A few years later, we moved to Guam. We lived in a two-story cement house with the most interesting trees in our yard: banana, coconut, and flowering hibiscus. We played with geckos, toads, and lime green baby praying mantises, and we played with our friends, of course. Woods were behind and beside our house, the “boondocks” we called it. Out exploring, we once stumbled upon a boar and a strange foundation.
May 21, 1976 Typhoon Pamela tore through the island with 140mph winds and destroyed everything. I did not see the storm the way an adult did, the way our parents did: worrying about the destruction. Too young to wrap my mind around that, I marveled at the way the rain seemed to fall sideways. So thick and white, it made me think of snow, though I had never seen snow before. It was a little scary at night as the harsh winds rattled the shutters over our windows and rain crept inside, making big puddles in the house. After the storm, two Navy men stayed with us to help with the cleanup on the island. One taught me the alphabet in sign language and how to draw faces.
From there we moved to Oahu, one of the Hawaiian Islands, and the adventure continued.
Older now, I usually knew what would happen later in the day, but I still didn’t know what tomorrow or next week held. When not in school, I spent my time outside, climbing trees and exploring the wooded areas between the houses with my friends. My sister and I also spent more time playing imaginary games which led to some of the best adventures of my life up this point. We created our own role-playing games, using our favorite characters from TV and movies. As the game developed over the years, we created our own characters too. When school got in the way of playing, we began writing stories with our characters. As we got older, we took turns writing chapters of an ongoing story. Each of us would leave the characters in a cliffhanger that the other had to write their way out of. This went on for years, ending sometime in high school. Our characters are probably still hanging on a cliff somewhere.
I stopped writing for a time. My father retired here in Ohio, which meant our family would never move again. I began to face new challenges and trials, and less adventure. I saw snow for the first time, which was pretty to look at but had me shivering and cold to the bone. Besides the cold, school got tougher, and life got harder. In many ways, the adventure ended.
Then sometime in my young adult life, I realized how I could rekindle the sense of adventure in my life. I needed to write again!
I threw myself into it. Writing is a ton of hard work but incredibly rewarding. It took years to really master the craft, many books on writing from the library, critiques and advice from other writers, but I finally got my first book published by a small publisher about five years ago. I now have six self-published books, an article in Catholic Digest, and two short stories in an anthology. Three of my books have won the Catholic Writers Guild “Seal Of Approval.” One book won a second-place award from the Catholic Press Association. And I’m currently working on three stories with several more ideas bouncing around in my head, several more adventures.
Writing has been an adventure that I absolutely love. And I hope each of my books has a similar effect on my readers.
But my number one adventure has been marriage and family life. I always considered myself a very independent woman and I didn’t have marriage on my mind. I moved out at age 18, worked full time, went to college part time, and bought my first new truck as soon as I was able–a stick-shift that I had to teach myself to drive the same day I bought it.
But in 1989 at age 22, I met and fell in love with my husband. Two years later, we married and began a life of adventure together. We spent one year in Arizona, moved back to Ohio, bought and fixed up a house together, studied for and joined the Secular Franciscans, and adopted three wonderful boys who are now with us on the adventure.
Although I’ve recently turned 50, I know in my heart that the adventure will only get more exciting in the days ahead.
As Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”