So often, I think about this quote: “You are one decision away from a completely different life.” – Mel Robbins
Have you ever taken a moment to grasp that?
I have. More than once.
I guess, when you’ve experienced trauma, these words really put things into perspective.
I’ve been through some hard shit in my life, and I can tell you, I completely empathize that: sometimes, you make decisions to stay in bed and not face your troubles. Sometimes, you make decisions to put on a front towards others, and push down deep-rooted emotions. Sometimes, you bottle things up, and eventually crack under pressure. Sometimes, you don’t listen to your own gut or your heart, because you don’t feel worthy of putting yourself before others. If you’ve done any of these…there is no judgment. I’ve been there, done all of this.
But, sometimes, you find the courage to face your concerns and troubles head-on.
I’ll document it somewhere, fully, one day, but I’ve shared a few times how I made the decision to save my life in 2021, after being dismissed by two medical providers. I knew I had a blood clot, but no one seemed to want to listen to my suspicions. Feeling worse, “the third time’s a charm,” I said to myself as I pursued yet another doctor to vet my concerns, it was confirmed that I did, in fact, have a blood clot. Unfortunately, this time, I learned how awfully extensive it had developed, broken up, and traveled, from my leg, through my heart, and into my lung.
This decision to chase my concerns not only led me to a completely different life…it saved my life – in more ways than one.
After my blood clot event in 2021, I reflected on my my life, and how I’d been living, in the midst of some of the darkest days, including processing the thought of being close to death days and weeks earlier. I walked through the “what ifs,” had I not chased a diagnosis, and I realized that I’d been so focused on making a living, that I wasn’t actually living.
I’m not saying all decisions are going to be right – or feel right. I’d worked in Human Resources for the same company for eight years, and then I decided it was time to move onward and upward. So, I did. I just felt that decision is how it should be. As it turned out, that decision proved toxic, just like the new workplace I’d entered. Deciding to save my mental and physical health, I started taking up watercolor art, and I also moved on to a new, lovely business. And then, childcare issues started cropping up. The commute was no longer convenient, and I sought out a fully remote role so I could help with drop-off and pickup. The final crushing blow? I had my DVT and PE just two days shy of my planned final work day.
The day after I was discharged from the hospital, I made the decision to push through the pain and start my new job. I told myself I was making the right decision to forge onward, and start the job, because that’s what needed to happen – it’s what was supposed to happen. But, I wasn’t actually listening to my gut.
I didn’t give myself proper time to process what had happened, or to heal, physically or mentally. It sent me into a spiral. I felt lost.
Trying to bring myself back to center, I leaned into something familiar for me: writing. It became a creative outlet, a way for me to process things, and one that I desperately needed. From that, I had an inspiring thought: I decided I would self-publish my manuscript (that would be “Finley’s Findings”), one that’d been sitting in my computer since I wrote it while on maternity leave a few years back. In teaching myself the ins and outs of self-publishing, I decided I better not let this sentimental story be a trial, so I made up another story, and I illustrated it myself with watercolors. With that, “What Might you Find At A Produce Parade?” was born. When you publish a book, there’s a chance you could earn income, so I decided it was time to establish a business – hello, Jenn Kennedy, LLC. Deciding to pursue the books felt so good. I loved bringing out my creative spirit, and I started feeling more purpose in my days.
And then, my husband told me about a show he found, and that we should watch. It was “Growing Floret,” featuring Erin Benzakein, the flower loving, cultivating, and inspiration behind Floret. When I tell you that I cried during every episode, I mean that I was a blubbering mess. Erin chased her love of flowers, and grew her passion into something magical and meaningful for herself and for so many throughout the world.
I knew, right then, that I was meant to do the same. I decided to pursue that dream of my creative passions, and I decided to invest further into myself and my newly established business. I learned that you could file a “DBA” (does business as), and this is how “Emerald Pine Collective” was brought to life. I remember walking in our neighborhood the day that I told my husband all of my dreams, and he told me to go for it.
Emerald: a nod to my birthstone, and a reminder to always celebrate being alive.
Pine: representative of my deep roots as a North Carolinian, and a creative.
Collective: symbolic of my many creative passions.
Forget chasing a paycheck. Forget the six-figure income. I wanted more for my family. I wanted more for myself. And, I wanted more out of life. Reflecting back, making purposeful decisions is the only way that I have been able to do all of this.
Even reviewing those decisions to move around in my career, and reacting to what life brought me by way of workplace, childcare, and health challenges, I felt all over the place then, but now, I know they were purposeful decisions. I stood up for myself, and I decided not roll with the hurtful blows, but to make intentional decisions to do the best I could, and to actually listen to my gut.
I still experience challenges, and there are so many days that I make mistakes, but, all I can do is reflect and move forward with renewed intention to do better.
I’m grateful for the impactful decisions I’ve made in the midst of challenges, and to live the life I now live each day.
May we all continue to lean into being intentional, find our voices, and make profound decisions for our own lives.