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Monday Musings & Motivations — Part Fifty-Four – Risk

We each experience life—love, loss, joy, pain—individually, personally, and no one can feel it for us. Friends and/or family can soothe and offer words of comfort or encouragement, but ultimately we have to take whatever it is on— take the risk or not.

For some of us, it takes awhile. We do the same thing over and over and expect it to turn out differently. It doesn’t. The same partner, job, situation, lesson we need to learn keeps showing up in different forms until we finally shift our perspective and try something different.

I think you have to know who you are. Get to know the monster that lives in your soul, dive deep into your soul and explore it. --Tori Amos

I think you have to know who you are. Get to know the monster that lives in your soul, dive deep into your soul and explore it.
–Tori Amos

We take a risk. It’s exciting, scary, and hugely uncomfortable for awhile. But something within us, maybe something that wants to be heard or saved or loved, decides to stop teetering on a  precipice and just dive in.

What’s the Payoff?

A psychologist once told me that people do things, whether their actions are destructive or desirable, do so because it satisfies a need. We develop behaviors from both nature and nurture. Challenging and/or changing that behavior is terrifying. As humans we usually gravitate toward the safe, the sure because we believe we have some control.

Ah, but there’s the rub. Just when we are going about our lives, doing the same thing, ignoring those dreams we once had or telling that little voice inside us to be quiet already, something comes along that forces us to take stock and do something different.


Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you take a risk, it changes you. You have new resources in which to pull from to take on other challenges. You walk away — nearly always — knowing you are far stronger than you thought. Why do we stop taking risks then? If every time we do, we gain knowledge, become stronger and embrace inevitable change, what keeps us from doing so again? What is it that scares us so much, especially if we have a kind of blueprint in our brains from doing so before?

Is it the work? Is it the uncomfortable feeling of change? Or do we once again, settle into comfortable banality because it’s just so much easier.

Enjoy Yourself. It’s Later Than You Think

Those words are from an old Guy Lombardo tune and have everything to do with the topic at hand here. I’m not sure why we stop taking risks, doing things that challenge or scare us but I’ve listed a few reasons below why I think so.

  • We get the thing we think we’ve been wanting.

That may be a relationship, job, move, new house. Whatever it is we’ve been dreaming of for years finally comes to fruition. We dig our heels into a rut because it takes struggle/pain/denial and any and all kind of uncomfortableness to finally, finally get there or here. So we tell ourselves, this is good for now. I’m not risking any more.

  • We get older.

Obviously inevitable and once we begin thinking we can’t do this because we’re reached X number of years, our brains really begin to believe this silliness. Once we buy into this, it’s hard to un-process this thought pattern. Really hard.

  • We worry that others will think we’re crazy/stupid/selfish and/or insert any other word:

We fear that we’ll upset someone or rock the boat. What if so and so thinks this about me? What will my mother/father/brother/sister/neighbor or WHOMEVER think? When you take a risk, there’s going to be someone who’s not going to like it. They’re going to tell you that you’re being crazy or selfish or stupid. Who needs that, right? (Secret:  After a while, no one really cares and they won’t be thinking about you much anyway.)

  • We may fail. We may succeed

If we fail at the thing we’ve been dreaming about for years then we we’re not who we thought we were. Then, we have to come up with a new sense of self. Scary. If we don’t ever try, take that risk, we can stay comfortable as it being “out there,” and we’ll get to it one day.

If we succeed, then not only do we have to stay “there,” but we have to maintain it. Maybe that’s why so many stop at the best-seller or a one-hit wonder. Gillian Flynn who wrote Gone Girl said in an interview something like this:  There’s never going to be another one of these in me, this one is it. I read Harper Lee said after writing To Kill a Mockingbird: I said all I needed to say and there’s no need to say it again.

  • Life gets in the way
Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still. --Chinese proverb

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.
–Chinese proverb

This is most likely the biggest excuse. We always think there’s going to be tomorrow or next year. There may not be. I grew up hearing my Dad say, “One of these days..” What if that day doesn’t come?

Maybe taking small risks, building up to  bigger ones restores our souls. I’ve led a very interesting life and still do but the old me (and by old, I mean when I was younger and a different me) took way more risks.

I think we need to keep that spirit alive—take a risk, from time to time. I’m beginning to realize that maybe the biggest risk of all is not taking any.


What are some memorable risks you’ve taken and how did it turn out? What risks are you taking now? If you’re not, why not? I’m really interested in hearing why you are or why you aren’t.

Happy Monday everyone.

Photo creds:
“Young Plant” by amenic181,courtesy of freedigialphotos.net
Lighthouse. unsplash.com
Dive and Lonely Boat, pictography


About Brigitte



43 thoughts on “Monday Musings & Motivations — Part Fifty-Four – Risk

  1. Oooo. Love that last quote, the greatest risk of all might not be taking any. I’m going to have to remember that. It is scary to take risks, but you’re right, every now and then you have to shake it up.

    Posted by char | February 23, 2015, 2:41 pm
  2. Great as always. I’m not much of a risk-taker, at least not in the “big” sense. When I was younger, I tended more to engage in risky behavior, but I think it mostly stemmed from not knowing it was risky, or underestimating the risks.

    I have taken risks in my life–nothing ventured, nothing gained, but to me they don’t seem that big. I don’t know if this is my BIGGEST risk, but it certainly had the biggest payoff:

    I had been dating a woman on-and-off for a couple years. I liked this woman, was attracted to her and had a good time with her, but didn’t see myself spending the rest of my life with her (and had, gently, told her as much). At the same time I had a girl-friend (platonic), to whom I was also very much attracted, enjoyed spending time with and possibly COULD see myself spending the rest of my life with. But trying to turn things romantic might eff up the friendship.

    But, life is short. I told the girl, “Look, I have to bring this up. I’m gonna say what I have to say, and if this goes badly, let’s agree to never mention it again. You know I’m dating {Girl X), and that’s all right, but it’s not going anywhere. The thing is, I like you…”

    And I married her.

    Posted by Smaktakula | February 23, 2015, 2:47 pm
    • Weird you say you’re not a risk taker because I view you that way. I did some risky fun things when I was younger set in motion by a life changing event. I learned plenty and sometimes wonder where that woman went to. Mountain climbing, white water rafting, vacations by myself, trying new careers and having no fear. Not saying I want to do those things again but I love the fearlessness in which I approached such things.

      You were saved by a woman, eh? Most great men are and what makes you even more special is that you give credit to that woman. I knew you were a romantic, Smak and I’m guessing you and the love of your life consider yourselves very lucky. I know hubby and I do. Opening yourself up to that real love, now that’s risky, but a risk that pays off immensely. Thanks Smak.


      Posted by Brigitte | February 23, 2015, 3:39 pm
      • Thanks, Brigitte–my wife is definitely a Godsend. I seriously overachieved. She’s everything I look for in a woman–funny, loving, and 90% stress-free, and she believes in me.

        In thinking about your reply, in that sense, I guess I am a risk taker. I’m not so much into physical risks (I’ve white-water rafted, for example, but never mountain-climbed; my wife has sky-dived, though–not me, no way!), but I have taken solo vacations, jumped into new careers and stuff like that. But I’ve usually had so much love and support from the people around me that nothing ever seemed that risky, you know? I mean, so what if I fail?

        Posted by Smaktakula | February 23, 2015, 3:58 pm
      • You’ve hit the nail on the head! That’s the secret, so what if I fail? If one can keep that attitude, one can face anything. Do anything. Be anything.

        Posted by Brigitte | February 23, 2015, 4:01 pm
  3. “We worry that others will think we’re crazy/stupid/selfish and/or insert any other word”—I think that one and the fear of failure are the two biggest things that hold us back. At least that’s the way it is for me. I’m currently in the process of taking a risk. It took me a long time to get there because of those two reasons. Time will tell when it’s time for me to take another. Because when I stop taking them, what will be left?…

    Posted by Carrie Rubin | February 23, 2015, 4:42 pm
  4. I love the Tori Amos quote. I feel the monster and the NEED for control. Letting that monster out and feeling naked, I guess. You nailed the reasons, Brigitte. Thought provoking as usual and much to ponder on. I think you know I’m a chicken sh!$.

    I’d say you’ve been quite adventurous…rafting, solo vacations etc.
    I love reading your musings. I’m so glad you wrote.

    Posted by UpChuckingwords | February 23, 2015, 5:26 pm
    • We all have that chicken shi$ tendency. It’s hard to do! What about you? Someone helped you with some shelves…anything come of that? Those adventures were many moons ago, but they were pretty great and got me here. I just think we all need to shake things up every once in awhile. I’ve been feeling pretty stagnant myself. I’m so glad you stopped by — always, homeslice.


      Posted by Brigitte | February 23, 2015, 5:43 pm
      • No…

        I agree, a shake up is good. I’m pretty worn out from the monotony of my days : wake up, work, dinner , dishes, bed. Rinse and repeat.

        But wha? I have to answers or ideas.

        Peace out.

        Posted by UpChuckingwords | February 23, 2015, 5:47 pm
      • I know what you mean. I do. But I’m going to keep after you. Like you do me. :). Peace out chickie.


        Posted by Brigitte | February 23, 2015, 5:52 pm
  5. I’ve been told that I’m a risk-taker or that I’m brave for doing certain things in my life, but I’ve never felt or seen those things in myself. 100% of the time, my decisions are what they are because I was feeling UNhappy and changing something (or taking a risk, in other people’s eyes) was the only way to make myself feel better. I recently quit my full-time job to work as a contract freelancer (with the same employer) because, once again, I was unhappy and miserable. My last week as a full-timer was the happiest I’ve been since I started and I took it as a good sign that my gut was right. It’s scary not knowing if/when my next full-time job will show up but I just can’t stand the feeling of being unhappy when we (generally) have complete control over how we feel.

    Posted by lillianccc | February 23, 2015, 5:40 pm
    • I know exactly what you mean, LIllian. People said the same to/about me. And, I too quit a full-time job years ago because I wasn’t happy. It was a great job, paid well, but I was terribly unhappy. I think people take more risks when they’re young, like you, and we buy into that we have to stop taking them as we get older. I know of your adventures. Keep that same spirit about you! But you strike me as an old soul and that ensures you’re in store for so many more adventures. The most difficult is trusting your gut but it sounds as if you’ve got that down. Thanks, LIllian. Always nice to hear your perspective.


      Posted by Brigitte | February 23, 2015, 5:50 pm
  6. It’s fear, Brigitte, fear that’s at the bottom of whether or not we take risks. While the fear may not always look the same, it distracts us by wearing different outfits, it still lurks, there, in the shadows. Some risks I took: went away to school; married young; divorced; moved to NYC; decided a child in my life was more important than a man; left the corporate world; returned to the corporate world; left again; opened my heart to our furry family members; welcomed a new partner in life; embarked on a new life venture…and I’ve still got almost half a century to go! 😉 xoxoM

    Posted by Margarita | February 23, 2015, 6:22 pm
    • You are so right, Margarita! And if we let fear take over we just stop. We have much in common. Your story shares some similarities with my journey. I’m so glad I took those “risks” when I did, aren’t you?

      And here’s to the next half century lady! Cheers and thank you, M. xoxo


      Posted by Brigitte | February 23, 2015, 7:07 pm
  7. We are taking on a risk that will not only be a giant leap, but an adventure too in the next couple of months. I will tell more as the date gets closer as to what the giant leap of adventure will be. It has a roller coaster of emotions right now that we are working through. Happy Monday – Happy Week 🙂

    Posted by cravesadventure | February 23, 2015, 6:35 pm
  8. I wish I could be more of a risk taker. I always feel like I’m juggling so many things, and I’m usually not first. My needs are definitely not at the top. So, I think taking risks means giving yourself permission to be on top. Hopefully, someday…before I die! Getting older does help me realize if not now, then when? Great post, Brigitte.

    Posted by Amy Reese | February 23, 2015, 8:40 pm
    • I’ll bet it’s those cute little ones that have you juggling and that’s understandable. I’m not a Mom but I believe Mothers need to put themselves at the top whenever the opportunity presents itself. I know it’s difficult, but I think it’s so important. If nothing else, then dance like crazy, right? ;). Thanks Amy.


      Posted by Brigitte | February 23, 2015, 8:59 pm
  9. When I was younger I took risks and didn’t really worry about the outcome but now that I’ve had kids I’m always worrying about their future and hardly take any risks. I’m a play-it-safe Mum – boring! Perhaps I need to step out of my comfort zone?

    Posted by rachel's book nook | February 23, 2015, 9:49 pm
    • Hi Rachel and welcome! I think risks are necessary every once in awhile, but ones with forethought. Of course, you have to consider your children. Some “risks are simply stepping out of your comfort zone. Submitting a short story, taking a class, following a forgotten dream. And I don’t think any “play it safe” Moms are boring. Quite the opposite really. Moms can just about do anything, they just don’t get the credit they deserve! Thank you, Rachel.

      Posted by Brigitte | February 24, 2015, 12:27 pm
      • I suppose I have been doing quite a lot of stepping out lately – entered a writing competition, submitted a manuscript, started helping out in the school tuck shop, hoping to do a sign language course soon – not so boring after all! Thanks Brigitte. 🙂

        Posted by rachel's book nook | February 27, 2015, 5:32 am
  10. This is a very thought provoking post, Brig. One of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken was quitting a steady, secure job with terrific benefits for a gig that capsized within a month. That is a painfully memorable backfire. Screwing up my livelihood is not one of my more treasured memories. The steady secure job was a very toxic workplace and I had to leave it. Looking back, I regret not taking a more calculated risk in how I did that. I did not see the downsizing coming nor did I ever think that I would be on the receiving end of that old cliche: last hired, first fired. It took me eight months to find another job — in a healthy economy. The way I see it, there’s taking a risk, there’s taking a foolish risk and then there’s being responsible. It’s much easier to take risks when you know that you have a safety net. I tend to fly solo, so I don’t have many of those, but I’m not completely risk-averse. There’s something that I’m considering doing, but I need to do a lot of research first. It is true that my age is a factor. I don’t have a life partner and I don’t have parents. And I certainly don’t want to give my siblings grief. Fortunately, I’m close to both of them. I can confide in them which does influence my decision making process.

    Posted by lameadventures | February 24, 2015, 12:22 am
    • Thanks, V. I did the same as you and I agree, we can’t take major risks all willy nilly. I did so when I was younger because it was just me. I quit a great job but I only had myself to look after. And I do understand about the age thing, you and I are the same age and it’s very real. You don’t have the opportunities you did when you were younger. But with age comes wisdom and sometimes you just have to go for it. Age teaches us I think how to use “risks” to further not only our careers but ourselves. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. Trust me, I know what it’s like to have to search for work during a good and bad economy, all alone and with someone. Somehow it all works out. Whatever venture you’re exploring I hope it challenges you and works out exactly the way you anticipate it will!

      Posted by Brigitte | February 24, 2015, 12:32 pm
      • I think that when one is younger one looks at time differently. When I was younger, I didn’t worry the way I do now because I thought that I had a lot of time ahead of me. At the risk of making myself sound like I have a foot already planted in Forest Lawn, I now view time as more behind me. From that perspective, I am more inclined to proceed with caution. Maybe that is the wisdom that comes with age, or maybe it’s living the saying, “Once bitten, twice shy.”

        Posted by lameadventures | February 24, 2015, 9:26 pm
  11. I guess I’ve always been more of a risk-taker, Brigitte. Although, like V. so eloquently states, I try to do it responsibly. Maybe I’m a bit more conservative about risk-taking as I’ve gotten older, but I still believe I’m the common denominator in any changes I make in my life. The biggest one I’ve created recently is starting my fine art photography business. I invested in a tent to attend art shows and actually did pretty well last year. I’m looking forward to expanding my product line this year and I’ve applied to a couple of juried shows at the Center for Fine Art Photography – so I guess we’ll see! Maybe the photography will be my creative outlet for when I finally decide to retire from my Physical Therapy practice (although my clients have informed that I can never do that!). To paraphrase Einstein: the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result.

    Great post, my dear.

    Posted by Cathy Ulrich | February 24, 2015, 9:49 am
    • Hi Cathy! i think I was more so when I was younger as probably most of us are. I know you’ve taken your photography to a whole new level and it’s those creative aspects of my life I’d like to do the same with. I paint, make old new and I write and I want to take more chances with those creative outlets—for myself. Look what you’ve done! Your photos are magnificent and all it took was for you to take that first step — that risk — of going for it. This is what I’m referring to. And the older I get, the more I want to explore how I can realize dreams I’ve had simmering for most of my life. Nothing to it but to do it, right?

      Thank you, Cathy and I look forward to hearing all the accolades as you build your photo portfolio.

      Posted by Brigitte | February 24, 2015, 12:42 pm
  12. Moving to Maryland in 2005 was a big step into the unknown for me and my husband. It took us far from everyone and everything we’d ever known. But we’ve grown to love the area and are really glad we took the chance when we did. As an introvert (who was also shy), I didn’t engage in much risky behavior when I was younger—or did I? Jumping into a ring of young bulls in southern France…. Working in Central America when the area was unstable…. Hmm…. 😉 Wonderful post as always, Brigitte!

    Posted by jmmcdowell | February 24, 2015, 7:24 pm
    • You know how much I’ve moved around! So glad you love where you are and hope you are ready for your next move. I hope it’s going great and stress-free. And YEAH, I think being anywhere in the vicinity of young bulls and working in Central America definitely falls under risk taking fun. It’s like you were a female Indiana Jones. I think he was kind of shy too. ;). Thanks JM.


      Posted by Brigitte | February 24, 2015, 8:57 pm
  13. Risks–lovely and terrifying at the same time. I saw myself in much of what you have written here but especially in succumbing to the age thing–I start to think I am getting too old for this–and you are right, it can create a pattern. I have decided to be as young as I feel and not as old as what I think my age once meant–I think your advice about taking little risks that lead to bigger ones is spot on–that is what I am trying to do now. As always there is such depth to your writing–I just love it and am glad you are back……………….

    Posted by on thehomefrontandbeyond | February 25, 2015, 3:14 pm
    • Hi Lou. They are, aren’t they? I try to think that we have so many more options than our Moms did, you know? And I’ll just bet you’ve “reinvented,” as the say, yourself several times which is one definition of risk. I know I have and plan to again. We must, I think, and even more important at this stage of our lives. Thanks so much for your insight and your kind words. So good to see you.


      Posted by Brigitte | February 25, 2015, 5:45 pm
  14. I take a risk every day I go to work… being a bellman can be fierce!
    By the way, great post!

    Posted by The Hook | February 27, 2015, 10:19 am
  15. My biggest risk was decided to spend a semester abroad in Italy during my sophomore year of college. I didn’t know anyone else going abroad, but my roommate in Italy ended up becoming one of my best friends and the time I spent in Italy completely changed my life. I don’t consider myself a big “risk taker” but I try to remember all the amazing things that came out of that “risky” decision to study abroad and that gives me confidence.

    It’s great to see you back!

    Posted by Erin E. | March 1, 2015, 1:37 pm
    • Hi Erin, What an adventure and yes, a risk! I bet you have memories you wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve never been to Italy and it’s one of the places I want to go so badly. That’s on my list of “risks.” And, I so agree with you, we do get a confidence boost when we decide to take a chance, a risk, no matter what the outcome. Always great to see you and thank you.

      Posted by Brigitte | March 2, 2015, 12:33 pm

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