Friday, December 05, 2008


I wish I remembered where I read it so I could give credit where credit is due. Maybe it was in Ann Patchett’s book, Bel Canto. Maybe it was in the Reader’s Digest. Maybe it was on the back of a shredded wheat box. But somewhere I read that most people in their lifetimes make six connected decisions that change the course of their lives.

Personally, I think this might be a rip-off of the old game, “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” a brain game invented by three students from Albright College that theorizes that any actor in Hollywood can be tied to actor Kevin Bacon in six steps. For example, if you “six degree” Kevin Bacon with Jessica Tandy: Kevin Bacon was in Flatliners with Julia Roberts, who was in Closer with Jude Law, who was in The Talented Mr Ripley with Gwyneth Paltrow, who was in Seven with Morgan Freeman, who was in Driving Miss Daisy with Jessica Tandy.

But let’s get back to the subject of six major decisions that bring you where you are today. The choice of your “Six Major Decisions” will change, depending upon where you are in life. What may have looked like one of the top six in the year 2008 may not even make the list in 2030. So the list will reflect where you are today, at this time.

Right now, without much explanation, these are the six major decisions as of December 5, 2008, that have changed the course of my life:
  1. In 1968, turned down a fine arts scholarship offer at UMM to major in theater and English and continued on track for Business Education at MSC.
  2. In 1971, agreed to let my boss introduce me to someone he had met who worked for another agency and who my boss thought would “be just perfect” for me.
  3. In 1981, made a decision to resign my teaching position rather than take a maternity leave, directly leading to returning to school and getting a master’s degree in English.
  4. In 1985, made a decision to go to Colorado for Christmas, which I believe did more to shape the direction and goals of all my children than any other single piece of parenting Tom and I did.
  5. In January 2000, made a decision to change my lifestyle and get healthier.
  6. This one is still up for grabs. Could it be my decision to retire in January 2009? Or will it be a later decision at another fork in the road that leads to even greater changes?
Maybe my sixth decision will lead me to starring in a movie with Kevin Bacon (see Decision 1 where I turned down the theater scholarship). Full circle. Why not? Don’t all roads lead to an encounter with Kevin Bacon?


Anonymous said...

What happened in Colorado that Christmas of '85??

j9 said...

We saw that there was more to the world than Nissen Street in Alexandria, MN!! Shannon and I got our first Cabbage Patch Kids, Elliot and Lorna Patricia--very monumental. We rode in the back of a plane with all the smokers and small children (I know, right?), Ryan skiied mountains, AND we jumped on a huge trampoline for the first time.

Anonymous said...

I love it!! Thanks for filling me in!

Elaine said...

I just love your blog! The decision to go to Colorado in 1985--did j9 cover it or was there more? It just sounds so intriguing! Thanks for being such a great friend--even with lapses of decades. And thanks for helping me set up a blog.

2to4aday said...

The Christmas in Colorado had a domino effect. Like J-9 said, the kids saw life beyond Nissen Street in Alexandria, Minnesota. Our son, at the age of 10, saw the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs--and it became what he aimed for the next 8 years. Then my daughters saw their brother dream big, shoot for the sky (literally), and they dared to be who they are, too. So it was a mixture of airplane rides, trampolines, mountain skiing, Cabbage Patch dolls, and just knowing that they were free to be who they wanted to be. No limits. No boundaries. And I am so proud of who they all became.

Anonymous said...

I went to Colorado with my family when i was younger, but they just dumped us all in the sand dunes. Ever since, I've dared to dream and fill sand bags whenever a 500 year flood comes through.

2to4aday said...

Okay, so the comment above made me want to tell the truth about what REALLY happened in Colorado in 1985. What we did, Tom and I, was drop the kids off by the side of the road in Colorado Springs to see if they could find their way home to Minnesota by themselves. "Survival of the fittest" child-rearing theory--very popular in 1985. When they arrived back in Alexandria six months later, thinner and tougher, we felt the children were a lot better prepared for life. So that's what REALLY happened in 1985. Disney even made a movie out of it: "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey." The roles of the three kids were altered slightly to a Golden Retriever named Shadow, a cat named Sassy, and a bulldog named Chance. Otherwise, the movie stayed true to our kids' experiences.

middleson said...

loved this post! i love lists and also self-reflection so this is good stuff. it sounds like a difficult task, picking 6 decisions out of the millions.
thanks for sharing!