Search and rescue

My mother, when she was dying, said to me, “There are no wrong answers, Kris.”

She was speaking from the vantage point of someone who has nothing left to lose. Someone with the luxury of looking back on a life filled with worry about making the right choices and realizing, in the end, most of those choices become irrelevant.

I was torn between staying at her bedside and going back to Chicago to take care of my kids. I felt I did not have a choice. My kids needed me. I was the glue in our household. But my mother needed me also.

Recently, I was worrying about the right job, the right parenting, the right financial and life decisions. As I’m sure many of you do. Few of us are immune to trying to game the system for the best results.

choices, options, alternativesIn most situations, you can stay put until forced to move or choose to venture into a lesser known option. Think “Who Moved My Cheese?”.

If you’ve not read the book, it’s about four characters who strike out to find cheese (which represents happiness and fulfillment). They find a spot where cheese awaits them each day. One day, the cheese is no longer there. Two of the characters set out immediately in search of new cheese. The other two keep returning to the same spot, angry their cheese is gone. The rest of the book is about their ability to adapt or not.

I have never been very good at the art of staying put. I tend to want to act when things are shifting around me—sometimes before things are shifting around me. And yet, despite the moral of “Who Moved My Cheese?”, sometimes waiting is not a bad option. Until life shows us a direction. Until our gut feeling kicks in to give us a clue as to the wise move.

I remember, just out of college, driving my very temperamental old car to visit friends at my alma mater. On the drive back to my parents’ house, the car broke down on the turnpike.

As steam escaped from the hood and trucks whizzed by, I considered my options. I was a young twenty-something alone on the side of the highway in the days before cell phones were prevalent. In the middle of a rural area. And it would be dark within the next hour.

I’m sure many people would have waited for a state trooper. But that could have taken hours and a lot of good luck. And who knows who else would have decided to show up? Possibly less welcome company.

I ran across the turnpike, climbed a barbed wire fence (ouch) and jumped into the cornfield below. As I jogged through the corn, I finally hit a country road. Following it, I was chased by a large dog which I fortunately outran. I finally came upon a house and knocked on the door. The woman who came to the door would not open it but talked to me through the screen.

Her husband was a state trooper. And he was at the family party in the backyard. He was able to call his buddies and tell them the approximate location of my car. He then walked me back down the road and through the field to get to it.

Was it fun, my little adventure? Not really. The barbed wire, dog and suspicious woman were not my idea of a house party.

But was it better than sitting and waiting passively?Rescue dog with barrel


And don’t think it was lost on me that the first house I happened upon was a state trooper’s home. What are the chances of that? And of me outrunning a German shepherd?

I think back on my mother’s response to me as I despaired over which of my loved ones took precedence.

There are no wrong answers.

I feel the weight of her words through the years since. They reverberate in my head, almost daily. At the moment, I did not realize she was telling me something I needed to carry with me for the rest of my time here. I’m not sure if she realized it either. But, in retrospect, those words carry a gravitas very few others have for me.

I was raised to worry. And it didn’t take me long to figure out that action is the antidote to it.

We can sit in the car and wait to be rescued. Sure. Nothing wrong with that, if we’re willing to accept that what may come along might not be rescue but something less appetizing.

Or, we can endure some short-term, temporary pain—barbed wire, mean dogs—and strike out to influence the ultimate outcome.

My gut told me to act. I listened. If it had said otherwise, I still would have listened.

There are no wrong answers. They all lead us somewhere—and maybe even to the same ultimate destination.

But the quality of the journey is at stake.

I have been rescued. It is rare that it provides you with the same solid feeling that rescuing yourself does.  It’s a wonderful feeling while it lasts but for me, the better feeling is knowing I can rescue myself. Repeated rescues by others breed passivity and a lack of confidence.

At least in me.

I’ll be straight with you. There are days I pray to be rescued from whatever it is I’m facing. And I mean it, wholeheartedly.

But I have learned to act. To be grateful when I do, even if I wait a bit too long.

My journey has been the better for it.


183 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing

  2. physician21 says:

    Thank you for this great post.

  3. I wish this message was a law ‘ There are no wrong answers’. There would be so much more peace and so much more freedom & confidence to choose, to explore, to act and to just be yourself..
    Nice one!!

  4. followechoes says:

    Wonderful post. It struck a chord with me. When Mum was departing this world I felt torn too. Part of me wanted to stay and be with her and the other with my children. I stayed with her. It felt right at the time. Now I am torn once again as my Dad is very ill after a stoke. I go as often as I can but does not feel like enough.

    I remember a woman once said to me many moons ago “life is like a map” and I turned to her and said “I think I have lost my compass” and the time I had.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m so sorry. Hoping your compass finds you this time . . .

      1. followechoes says:

        Thank you 🙂 fingers crossed

  5. vedthinks says:

    Simply a #MustRead 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing such a personal universal journey

  7. kathleenlynagh says:

    Your mother and my mother would like each other. My mother told me the same idea, there are no wrong answers in life. Her second favorite was, some days you will have to pull yourself up by your boot straps. A funny picture in my mind’s eye to being do that, but wise advice, there are some days only you can rescue yourself.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh yes:). That second bit of advice was used in my home as well! Often.

  8. calebtimeyin says:

    Powerful. What a story 🙂

  9. ml844 says:

    Your beautiful post moves so much in me. The question, “where is my cheese” stings like lime juice on an open wound. My boyfriend, my love, my everything, passed away unexpectedly this past February. I don’t think I’m at the point where I can settle with the idea that my “cheese” is gone. He rescued me at one point, I know that in time I’ll have to rescue myself. Thank you for the inspiring story.

    1. candidkay says:

      I am so sorry for your loss. Wishing you peace and strength.

  10. zenoapate says:

    This was beautiFully written and just what I need to hear in my life right now. So thank you for sharing. I agree that self rescue is a more satisfying alternative. And being bipolar I’m not a stranger to that idea. Even though Sometimes it is impossible to rescue myself I generally try take the necessary actions to prevent a needed rescue in the first place. But it’s a journey. So thanks again for sharing some of yours.

    1. candidkay says:

      I wish you peace on your journey. Sounds like you already have the self awareness piece down. Which is not easy!

  11. iDikko says:

    Thanks for sharing, brilliant!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad to have you:).

  12. Great post, well written and very exciting story! I admire how you trusted your gut feeling and took action! Bravo. 🙂

  13. sabayoub says:

    Beautiful!! Truly touched me

  14. Omy says:

    Thank you for the post
    I really needed it. My life right now is in amidst tough decisions, and yes as you said it, i am waiting for the time when i have control over things… just have to have faith till then.

    1. candidkay says:

      That’s the hardest place to be, I think. And I’m not sure we ever really have control, right? Wishing you peace and a great gut instinct.

      1. Omy says:

        Thank you … and yes you are right
        We seldom have this ‘total control’ over things
        Sometimes we have to just let the gravity work

        (Pardon my crappy English plz :D)

  15. Jennifer says:

    Such is life, might as well make the most of every situation. Beautiful read!

  16. abenii says:

    Thanks for sharing, you are indeed a brave person. Some people are just scared to follow their instincts but at the same time it does more good than harm, and at the end of the day an important lesson is going to be learned irrespective of what the lesson is

  17. Birdie says:

    This is a great post. I am trying to raise my kids with the knowledge that life is a crap shoot and we can only do our best with what we have in front of us.
    Great writing!

  18. The Typewriter says:


  19. 2experiences says:

    Reblogged this on 2experiences and commented:

  20. 2experiences says:

    Omg I’m speechless! It amazing! thank you so much for sharing your story with us!!! I don’t even know what to say! It’s that awesome! ❤

  21. Elissaveta says:

    You think the picture says it all, then you read the post, and realise your words say it better.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). They say a pic is worth 1,000 words but if I can do it in less . . .

  22. Bonolo says:

    Reblogged this on IT GOES LIKE THIS! and commented:
    Inspirational, well written post. Beautiful!

  23. CharleeD says:

    Great picture! And great story

  24. riz says:

    Thanks for putting into words something many of us go through. My two cents, I believe there’s a time to wait and to take action. 🙂 Wisdom tells us which is which. Perhaps, that’s why it’s important to pursue wisdom above all.

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree! And learning to trust our own wisdom over the voices of the world can be tough:). Thanks for reading!

      1. riz says:

        Couldn’t agree more. 🙂

  25. Angie Mc says:

    Reblogged this on Angie Mc's Reblog Love and commented:
    Love in action. Kay writes, “I was raised to worry. And it didn’t take me long to figure out that action is the antidote to it.”

  26. Excellent. G’day from Australia 🙂

  27. whyistherebreadinmykoolaid says:

    Reblogged this on Why is there bread in my Kool-Aid? and commented:
    I hope this strikes some of you as powerfully as it did me! Reblogging this gem!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so very much for the reblog! So glad this struck you,

  28. Lisa Brown says:

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Lovely post.

  29. lostbutnotworried says:

    This came along at just the right time. Really enjoyed this post as a fellow self rescuer who also prays at times to be rescued despite knowing I could probably do it better” Thank you for this!

    1. candidkay says:

      Nice to know I’ve got compadres out there:)

  30. I so agree with the theme of your post! I have learned that even if I don’t know exactly what the “end game” is that it is better to do something, anything, than do nothing at all. You never know where something small will lead!

  31. “Repeated rescues by others breed passivity and lack of confidence.”

    Wow. Yes. I’m not so adept at rescuing myself I guess. I need to keep reading pieces like this. Thank you for sharing. I guess it’s time to take some sort of action instead of just crying out to the universe to save me. What action to take I just don’t know, but I’m sure it will come to me! Thanks to you and your mom for the inspiration!

    1. candidkay says:

      I find the answers come when I get very quiet, ask and then let it go. They don’t always come in the moment but they come like a lightning bolt, a sure knowing, soon thereafter. Wishing you that:). Thank you for the kind words!

  32. JuJuBean says:

    Reblogged this on Modern Issues: Psychology and commented:
    What an amazing post on action instead of passivity. While the ultimate destination may be the same (ie Fate), the *quality* of your life journey depends on your choices:

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much for the reblog. Wishing you a quality journey . . .

  33. DOLOSEILE says:

    ❤️❤️❤️ sending you love and gratitude! I can relate somehow. Beautiful words both from you and your mom!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog and sending that love/gratitude right back ‘atcha:).

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by to check out my blog. Glad it resonated with you:).

      1. Thanks, I have a volunteer makeup therapy service working with people suffering all illness and disability so am often with people who are terminal. It is a truly incredible experience xxxxx

  34. jaynefranks says:

    Thanks for sharing. The cheese book, I’d forgotten about it until you mentioned it. Its a great little book at drawing your attention to the consequences of sticking with what you know.
    Wishing you all the best.

  35. thefaiga says:

    Reblogged this on mindkicker and commented:

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog! And the kind words . . .

  36. Mr. MedicWannabe says:

    Reblogged this on Mr. MedicWannabe and commented:
    “There are no wrong answers. They all lead us somewhere, …
    But the quality of the journey is at stake. ”

    I love this post very much! 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog!

  37. Cool Blogger says:

    you have got flow in your blog., keep it up

  38. submarelime says:

    Reblogged this on MaryAnn's World and commented:
    You got to talk to your mom before she died? Awww, man I missed that opportunity with my mom and I haven’t forgiven myself for that since…’s been 10 years. =(

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog! I truly appreciate it. And yes, I did get to talk to my mother but it was not just before she died. A few weeks before. I was, as I said, torn between being a mother and being a daughter. Don’t beat yourself up. I focus on the years we had and the fact that we both, in the end, knew we loved each other. That’s what matters. It’s what you carry with you.

  39. Congratulations. Well deserved.

  40. londog83 says:

    Great post. You are right on about humanity and their occasional love affair with the status quo. I just posted about one of the possible causes of such behavior, namely fear of isolation. Check it out if you are interested!

  41. Rae says:

    I loved this. So often we’re taught to be the “damsel in distress” and patiently wait for our rescue, forgetting we can rescue ourselves.

    1. candidkay says:

      Ad nauseum! Yes:). When we’re perfectly capable.

  42. nattybynatureproducts says:

    I love this post!!

  43. kldollar111 says:

    This was so touching. So well written! Thanks Kris. It seems like you have come such a long way.

  44. aamirox says:

    You got me there! 🙂
    Do stop by my blog and tell me how you find it!
    I’ve just started newly on WordPress!
    Looking forward to your feedback!
    It’s btw!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog!

  45. aamirox says:

    Hi! Aamir here!
    Great piece there, Kay!
    I completely agree that life is a concoction of choices, some good, some even better!
    But sometimes my mind wanders off into thoughts like ‘will I have enough time to make the choices and enjoy them? Have I already enjoyed the fruits of the choices that I’ve already made?’
    It puts me into a frenzy. How do you deal with that?

    1. candidkay says:

      Ah yes, I call that monkey mind:). I meditate to help train myself to ignore that monkey mind and stay in the moment. The minute you fast forward or rewind, you’re just asking for that frenzy, if you’re a creative type:). And I think you are.

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