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Once upon a time I chose the safe paths, the lit roads, the sure lanes, the calm seas. Life was predictable, without challenge, passing without significance…boring.

then I began to take risks. They were small at first. An overnight trip here, a piano recital there, then my first BIG risk came when I decided to fly overseas by myself at 19 to meet a group of strangers and tour Europe for three weeks.

A few years later, a bigger risk came when I purchased my first home without a steady full time job. The mortgage was easily half my graphic designer’s freelance income, but at least other debt was low and no kids were along yet to share the ride. Eating out meant chowing down on 3 tacos for a buck from Del Taco’s taco Tuesdays and the first Christmas tree only hung 20 lonely red balls on its branches. Ah, the simplicity of those days.

The next big risk came when I cut my freelance salary in half by accepting the job of my dreams and a 80 mile daily commute to Los Angeles. Fortunately it didn’t last long before I was able to earn my worth again…unfortunately it meant several long nights working on black and white TV Guide ads that were usually redesigned the following day. These were the not so simple days.

Sure, marriage, kids, a bigger home, these risks came my way too, but I actually saw them more as rites of passage. Some days were joyous and celebratory, others were patiently endured.

As I continue along life’s journey, risks have become more infrequent but are far more significant. After 12 1/2 years at that dream job, each day became more and more of a nightmare. The commute didn’t bother me, and most of the people were great to work with, but the politics of the business and lack of artistic integrity began to weigh heavily on my spirit. I wasn’t myself and I didn’t like what I was becoming…or actually what I was not becoming. So I left. Two kids. No severance. No insurance. No replacement job lined up. I was about to enter one of the biggest tests of faith in my career.

Fortunately, the risk was worth it and a glorious business blossomed. I lead my own team, set my own standards and reaped abundant rewards which I willingly shared with coworkers, family and friends. This rising business created new demands for more staff, bigger space, faster computers, better benefits. Enter the next giant risk…investing in a building and remodeling it to make it our own.

As with all creative endeavors change and challenge often find each other along the journey. It seems they have each become constant companions to me as of late. Some days a change brings about a new challenge, other days a new challenge brings about the change. Throughout it all, I have learned to become more patient in transactions, maintain presence in transitions and focus on transformation.

So Risk and I meet each other regularly. We have become classmates in the school of creative living. I no longer view Risk as a bully or monster but instead a coach, a mentor…challenging me to be only the best I can be…nudging me when I need just a bit of direction and pushing me straight off the cliff when I lose faith.

Today’s creation comes from looking my old friend Risk straight in the eye and asking him to walk hand in hand into our next adventure. We’ll reminisce, maybe even share a laugh or two, but we will always find comfort knowing each other has the other’s back.