Do you have dreams and goals for your life?

I was fourteen years old when I discovered what I wanted to do as an adult. My parents and I were in Yellowstone National Park and we watched a female park ranger observe a herd of bison and jot down notes on paper (this was before the days of laptops and mobile devices). I pointed to her and told my mom and dad, “That’s what I want to do when I grow up!” A lady ranger in Yellowstone – how cool!

Three years later, as I planned for my next steps beyond high school, looking at schools and programs, my father said, “I don’t know why you want to waste your time and money on college – you’re just going to get married and be pregnant anyway; you’re a girl!”

Nice, uh? But, in my father’s defense, he was raised in the South during the 1930s and 1940s, and that’s what most women did. Pregnancy doesn’t prevent a woman from following her dreams, especially in these times …college, career, the sky is the limit, even if you do have a child. Look at women like singer Adele, who had a son when she was 24; Liz Wiseman, former executive at Oracle and now CEO of her own company who has four children, and Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, who gave birth to a baby girl earlier this year – there are many others.

I never became that lady ranger in Yellowstone – I learned during the first two years of college that the required mathematics and physical science courses were not my cup of tea. So, I changed course just slightly. I discovered a love of writing during my latter high school years and meshed that passion with my love of nature, graduating with a communications degree and a minor in natural resource management. I’ve held jobs as a conservation educator for two non-profits, a community relations manager for two different humane societies, and these days assist True Care and other entities with writing projects. I thought I’d take one road, but when that didn’t work out, I took a different path. Yet, I found myself and my gifts and I’ve learned to be myself.

As for my dad – well I don’t think there’s a father more proud when he watched as I stepped onto that university stage and received my Bachelor of Science degree, the first person on either side of my family to attend and graduate college. Nor when I published my first book, a dog story for children. He still tells me he’s proud of me from time to time.

I did marry, when I was nearly 30, but I wasn’t able to have children. Instead, four-legged kids fill my house and my heart, and I help with pet rescue and adoption whenever I can. And, I help True Care. I love all the opportunities that have come my way.

What are your passions? What motivates you? What are your gifts and talents? Perhaps these are things worth pursuing. Do you have a life plan? Action is required to grow and to make one’s dreams come true.

People, including parents, can mess with our minds. People can put us down … but, we don’t have to stay down. People can tell us we’re not good enough, but we don’t have to accept what they say. Self-confidence is something we can build within ourselves. And, if we hang out with the right people, with encouragers instead of discouragers, we will find that right path. Whether it’s furthering your education, learning that particular skill for that “dream job,” or maybe being the best parent you can be, discovering your passions, talents, gifts and abilities, and then creating an action plan to follow that dream brings meaning to one’s life. Doing this takes time as well as courage, and perseverance.

Find yourself and be yourself. Then, create an action plan to get there. I’m rooting for you!