As simple as it sounds, these three things shaped who I am today. My journey in life has been one of adventure and diversity. Each experience taught me something about myself and something about life. One important lesson I have learned is that you can be taught anything, but it takes passion and the willingness to fail to make anything valuable.
A PROM DRESS.
When I was a girl, my mother bought me a copy of Seventeen Prom Magazine. On the cover was a red satin ballgown lightly dusted with gemstones. This dress led me into a passionate love affair with fashion. At the young age of 22, I opened a high-end dress boutique in Boardman, OH. My entrepreneurial spirit, combined with my dream of making it big in the industry, helped me land business funding from the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corporation. For years, I watched my dreams come true as I dressed young women for pageants and prom dances. I was able to pioneer a social movement targeted at boosting self-image among teenage girls. While I no longer own the business, the memories and lessons I took from this venture made each reward, and each struggle, worth the effort invested.
When I made the decision to close my business I was terrified. My heart was filled with anxiety and I spent many nights wondering what the next chapter in my life would look like. One morning I was clouding my head with worry when I remembered a commencement speech my brother gave when he graduated from John Carrol University. In his speech, he mentioned a sermon that was given to encourage people to let go of their anxieties.
The sermon spoke of two monks who went on a journey to spread the message of God. Along the way, a King punished the monks for crossing his land by making each carry a large stone until they entered new territory. As the two traveled along, one monk remained angry and tired, while the other regained his happiness. Annoyed and frustrated, the weary monk asked how the other how he could be so cheerful as he carried his heavy stone. The joyful monk replied, “brother, I dropped my stone a long time ago, why have you not dropped yours?” The stone, of course, was a metaphor for the anger and stress the first monk was carrying with him. That is when I decided to let go of my stone. I let my fears disappear and decided to be courageous and confident instead. Because of that sermon, I was able to appreciate my journey and go on to conquer so much more. It allowed me to discover that with passion and dedication, I can truly accomplish anything. Plans change, but it is no reason to stop dreaming or achieving.
A year ago, I thought I had everything in life I could want. I had a steady and fulfilling career and an adoring husband. Every night I went to bed feeling satisfied. One morning, I went to my doctor for an ultrasound. As I was laying on the table, waiting to hear a list of solutions for a problem I thought I had, I was informed that I was in fact pregnant. That moment changed my life forever. I had been told that I would have trouble conceiving a child. Never did I think I would be so blessed to find out I was having a baby. Suddenly, going to bed “satisfied” was not enough. My life was no longer my own. Now, I have someone to set an example for. I have always been a hard worker, but now I want to work even harder. I have always seen success, but now I want to be even more successful. The day my daughter was born, I promised her that I would do my best to keep her happy. I believe happiness is accomplished by holding God, family, and hard work close to your heart.