Stepping into Opportunity
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My first guest-blogger is my daughter Lindsay, because she fully embraces the concepts in my book and has a great story to tell. I admire her tenacity, her spirit and her ability to take risk.  Once you’ve read her blog, I’m sure you’ll understand why I love and admire her so much!


After graduating from the University of Iowa in 2011, I moved home for a year to work and decide where to go to graduate school. Having spent my entire life in the Midwest, I applied to schools in Colorado, Massachusetts, and North Carolina, finally deciding that Colorado felt like the place to be. So, one year ago, I packed up my SUV and drove west, with high hopes that the next chapter in my life was going to be full of new and exciting adventures.

While driving through Wyoming, it finally dawned on me that I was actually moving to a brand new state, without knowing anyone. My excitement slowly changed to anxiety and fear; however, I tried to stay positive and think of how lucky I was to have been given this opportunity. After settling in and saying goodbye to my sister, reality sunk in – I was alone without family or friends in a strange town.

At orientation the next day, I met the other girls in my program, all of whom had been living in Colorado, or had moved there with their significant others. I thought, “What have I done?!? Why did I think that this was a good idea to leave everything familiar behind?! I’m shy, and introverted! And now I have to meet new people and start over in a place where I know no one?!” I tried to stay positive, but began to regret my decision to leave the Midwest.

 The first semester of school was incredibly difficult– tough to make new friends with people who had established lives, and hard to feel confident in my schoolwork after a year off.   On many days I was tempted to get in my car and drive back home, but something inside me said no.

One day, while out for a run at a local lake. I got to a point on the path where the sun was shining down on the lake, the trees were slowly blowing in the wind, and the mountains in the background made the most beautiful backdrop. I thought to myself, “Why the hell am I not enjoying this place? How is it possible to live in such a beautiful part of the country and be this upset?” I decided to do things differently – to make the most of this opportunity I had been given!

 My first thought was to make more friends in Colorado, so a classmate and I signed up for “Where’s Happy Hour?” through Yes, it felt awkward going to hang out with total strangers, but once there, it wasn’t so bad. I exchanged numbers with a girl from my hometown, and we’ve gone out several times since for beer and nachos!

 To feel less lonely and sorry for myself, I fostered a wonderful rat terrier for two months, which made a world of difference. That experience enabled me to take steps to adopt my own dog, which led me to Sadie. Sadie was five years old and had been rescued from a kill shelter in New Mexico. When I approached her, she rolled on her back for a belly rub, and I knew immediately she was the right dog. Three months later, I know that adopting her was best decision I have ever made. She is the sweetest and most loving little terrier-mix I have ever seen, who manages to find such happiness in the littlest things.

 The final step to enjoying life in Colorado was learning to be okay with the fact that sometimes I am going to do things alone. I now go to movies by myself, which I never thought I could do, but really enjoy! I drove up the side of a mountain in a snowstorm (terrifying!!) to join a group of fifteen other volunteers to help veterans and their families reconnect through recreational therapy. The first night, of course, I was uncomfortable because the other volunteers had such a tight bond with one another. By the end of the retreat I had opened up and really connected with everyone through activities like snow-shoeing, ice fishing, and tubing. If I kept avoiding doing things just because I had to do them alone, I never would have had the chance to meet great new people and try new things.

 As I look back on the past year, I’m proud of the steps I’ve taken to embrace the opportunity I’ve been given. Armed with a new pair of hiking shoes, I’m ready to start exploring my new state, and am even considering staying in Colorado after graduation. Six months ago, I would never have thought about staying, but everything changed once I realized how lucky I was to live in such a great place. With one more year left in school and endless opportunities after I graduate, I am excited to see what my (and Sadie’s) future holds.

 — By Lindsay Hornell

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  1. Way to go Lindsay! What a great example of how taking risks pays off…

  2. Congratulations, Lindsay! What huge steps you’ve already taken … and what a fantastic journey awaits. And congratulations to you, too, Deb. No doubt you exercised great courage as well, as your daughter went through such a challenging transition so many miles away. Bold women!

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