Today is a day I will not soon forget … a day that came after much preparation. At that end of that preparation, I had a friend tell me that I “personify persistence,” and she went on to define it: “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.”

I’ve read those words over and over. Good or bad, I keep thinking, yes…those words are at the core of almost every life experience I’ve ever had. I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad to say that, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the most insightful things anyone has ever said to me.

I remember as a child, riding in the backseat of our family car, gazing out the window and imagining all of the tings I was going to do when I was finally an adult. All of the tings I wasn’t going to do. All of the horrible things I saw in my own home, in the houses of friends and neighbors. I was determined that wouldn’t be me. Wouldn’t be my kids. And it isn’t. When I think about all of the alternate paths my life could have taken, I thank God for my good fortune; my happiness; my beautiful, healthy children; and the fact that I’ve been married for almost eighteen years to the person I’d want to do it all over again with every day of my life. But it didn’t happen by chance.

I decided as a child that I was going to be independent, able to support myself, and I was. I am. I had a great job, a job that not only supported me, but a job I loved, a job I was really good at. Then I decided I was going to follow another love and write full time. I was going to publish a novel. And now, after years of threatening, it’s finally almost available in print. Just a couple more weeks to go.

These days, I feel like I spend most of my time thinking about what I want my kids lives to be like, what I want to offer to them. And through that perspective, I’ve learned more about our educational system than I ever cared to know. My kids have inspired me to do more, to follow hard paths most will chose not to follow, and as a result Monroe County will have more school options.

So often in conversation, I will hear someone’s concerns followed by the words, “I can’t.” It happens more than not so you’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it still amazes me. It’s still so disappointing. My message here is simple: If you say you can’t, if you believe you can’t, then you can’t. Because you won’t. If you really want it, then you should, and you can, and you will. Can’t is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That single word is your worst enemy, one that can kill any dream or desire.

So never say I can’t. Instead, embrace persistence. It is not the easy path, but it will take you wherever you want to go.

Never. Give. Up.

Ever.

And to my fabulous eight, thanks for sticking with me. It’s been a journey for sure.

xo,