Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Right and Wrong

Some folks insist that if they could live their life over again they wouldn’t change a thing. That’s a sweet sentiment, but I don't feel that way. Although I spend almost no time regretting my poor decisions, if I had it to do over again, you bet I would make some changes.

What I Got Right – Choosing Kim

She wasn’t from the popular crowd. She didn’t have the hourglass figure or poofy hair (fashionable in the 1970s). She wore little makeup, and she dressed like a boy. But she was real. She was fun, determined (especially on the track and in the classroom), flirtatious (at least with me), and had natural good looks.

What I didn’t know in high school is that she would grow into an amazing woman, mother, wife, and now caregiver. What I also didn’t know in high school is that I couldn’t have chosen a more compatible, loving, dedicated, and (again) fun individual.

I got that one right, and I’m glad she felt the same way toward me.

Observation: in the photo above she does have poofy hair, and she's definitely not dressed like a boy. But she looks so damn cute in this picture that I couldn't resist.

What I Got Wrong – Choosing to Be a Chemical Engineer

This is a tough one for me to admit because I spent so much of my life doing this work, and I was pretty good at it, and I was well compensated for it. But if I’m to be honest with myself, there were so many other directions I could have gone.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Chemical engineers made more money than any other four-year degree. My father liked the idea because he worked for chemical engineers at the paper mill, and they were the top dogs. The University of Maine, my choice for a college, offered me a half tuition scholarship my freshman year which became a full tuition scholarship for my next three years, based on an engineering major. My decision was almost preordained, and I didn’t have the wisdom or courage at the time to think for and advocate for myself.

What should I have done instead? I’m not sure. The life of a college professor may have worked – being both an intellectual and a coach for young people. I also think I would have been happier in the business/finance world. I like big picture issues – not so much how do I make this widget better, but how do I make this company better. I thoroughly enjoyed getting my MBA, but I was so far along in my engineering career that I never made the leap to the business side. I only used the MBA as resume material.

During high school, I didn’t consider myself a people person. I was horribly shy. I was much better at numbers and formulas and equations. It has only been in the last few years that I’ve tapped into my creative side and appreciated how rewarding it is to improve the lives of people. Perhaps I would have enjoyed helping others in the medical or legal areas. I don’t know.

I just know that I got it wrong when I chose to be a chemical engineer.

What Did You Get Right and Wrong?

This is a new series of blog posts, where I’ll write about one thing I got right in my life and one thing I got wrong. I would like to know your personal Right and Wrong stories. Please forward them to me at email@enjoyingtheride.com. Once I get enough of them, I’ll publish them in a blog post.


  1. You hit the lottery in marrying Kim. I've given some thought to your challenge to find personal right and wrong stories. And ... I've found it a challenge. I seem to accept that whatever I did or happened to me was a teaching experience which led to personal growth of some sort. But I am unequivocally glad I entered the world of blogging, both on the reading and the creating sides. Wrong story could be the advent of MS but as my current post indicates, it too has led to an opportunity for growth and forgiveness. Post link is: http://www.lapazconvos.blogspot.com/2015/07/amazing-grace.html

    1. Judy, your post is beautiful! we certainly do learn from our mistakes and sometimes from our bad fortune. Although my body is so much weaker for having MS, my spirit is stronger, as is yours I'm sure.

  2. Hey, this was harder than I thought. First of all, Kim still looks just as good as she did in that first picture--and I think we all know from your blog that she's fun. Way to go Mitch!

    I did know right away that I regretted chasing that mercury from the broken thermometer across the kitchen floor and then picking it up with my bare hands. Mercury -- nerve damage, mercury -- nerve damage? Yeah. Not so hot. I definitely got my 2nd marriage right but not the first one. On the other hand, two great kids came out of the first so was it a mistake? Nah!

    Career choice: theatre? Yup. Exactly what I needed to go into business, and I'm not kidding. I did like teaching, though.

    Another thing I did right was all the volunteering. I always got far more back in personal development and just plain satisfaction than I put into it. We should have to pay to volunteer! I'm sure glad my parents pushed it.

    It seems that every horrible choice I made resulted in some disaster that made me change and grow and equipped me with the temperament to deal with MS when it came. It wasn't always true, but now I'm blessed with an upbeat attitude and an ability to find joy in the little stuff - most of the time, anyway. Oh I can get angry and grumpy and scared and down--but it isn't comfortable so I don't stay there long.

    I made plenty of wrong choices but they have all worked out anyway!

    1. Daphne, that damn Mercury was so much fun to play with before we knew! I've heard the "got the marriage wrong but the kids right" from several people. I like that you listed volunteering – I'm only now learning that myself. And as I commented on Judy's comment, MS does have a way of strengthening a person's spirit.