Over the past 20 years, I have worked my way in and out of believing in my dreams. Sacrificing and working hard for what I want is something that was instilled in me by my parents, but sometimes, even with hard work, our goals can stay just out of reach. Below are five things in life that I wanted, thought had become unattainable, and then achieved:
Find someone who gets me and whom I can support
I’m sure everyone has had that experience of “the one who got away.” By the time I moved to Atlanta in 2001, I was fairly certain that the right person for me was someone I had already dated and was already out of my life. What I was looking for was someone who could deal with my peculiar personality, my eccentricities, as well as my anxiety. As I started to date in Atlanta, the belief that the one for me had escaped grew stronger and stronger. Even though I was still asking for dates, I couldn’t shake that I wasn’t going to find someone who could understand me and be able to put up with me on a daily basis.
The main criteria I had for finding someone to marry was that I needed to be able to “back their play.” This meant that I would be able to support how they treated and spoke to others in their lives. Knowing that I had created an unattainable set of criteria, I all but gave up looking.
I finally met the woman of my dreams in the office I worked in at SunTrust Bank. She always walked by my desk staring straight ahead of her and never noticed me. This, of course, made me crazy and I went about looking for some way to both get her attention and keep it. We have been happily married since 2004.
Find my way back to improvisation
From 1996 until 2011 I was after one thing, Improvisation as Theatre. I wanted to make a type of improv that inspired others to think of improv as art in addition to being comedy. As the years went on I invested myself more and more until, around 2009, I started to burn out. I was stretching myself too thin and nothing I was touching was working well. Finally, in 2011 I was done. I closed the doors to my improv theatre and walked away to find another life.
Anytime I thought about improv it made my stomach hurt and my bones ache. I decided I was done. That chapter of my life was over. I was pretty sure I would never return to it.
Then, in 2013, a part of me woke up again. I started to think about improv in a way that seemed healthy and productive. In 2014 I was given the opportunity to use all my years of improv training and experience in a new way at DuMore Improv. Now it is clear to me that improv never left me. It was in my bones and in how I treated others. What left was what place it held in my life and what priority it took.
Leave a nine to five job and work for me
When I was hired by DuMore Improv in 2014, it was a few months after I had made the leap into entrepreneurship. When I left the safe confines of my nine to five job, it was one of the greatest feelings of my life. True, it was scary, but it was also exhilarating and freeing.
Over the years I had seen multiple opportunities come and go that would have allowed me to leave my day job. Each time one of those opportunities came, something else happened that kept me in the safe zone. The epitome of these opportunities was in 2007 when I was just about to step out on my own and was confronted by the Sub Prime Mortage crisis.
Finally, in 2014, I was handed a severance package along with the rest of my team. When I saw the amount of severance I would get, I realized that this was the opportunity I needed to get out there and make this happen.
It is 2017 and I am still out here making it happen.
Have a child
I have had a rocky relationship with the idea of having children. When I was young I had a constant worry that if I were to have a child that something in me would cause me to leave my family the same way that my biological father left me. When I got past this fear I was met with another.
For many years I feared that my anxiety would make me incapable of doing right by a child or being a good father. When I got past this fear I was met with a reality.
In 2004 my wife and I got married. We began trying for a child. Years went by. We weren’t getting pregnant despite all of our reading and studies and it was constantly on our minds. We decided to try paying to have the sun and the moon align for us in a turkey baster, but still… no child. We decided to stop trying and just try to accept that we wouldn’t have kids. When I got past this, we were hit with a tragedy.
In 2009 my wife and I finally got pregnant. We made it all the way to finding out her gender. The very next day, we lost her. It was horrible. Here is what I wrote to our friends and family:
To all of our Friends and Family,
Mary and I wanted to let you all know that sadly, we lost our little baby girl last night due to an unforeseeable and likewise unpreventable issue with her cervix. We are still at the hospital but will be going home today. We are both making it through and, though we are grieving, our faith is seeing us through this hard time.
Her name was Sarah Katherine. We named her that just Tuesday, in fact, when we did the ultrasound that shared the good news that she was a she! That name is hers and we will love her always as our first child.
If you are asking the question “what can we do to help” the answer is to please pray for us and for the first day or so please do not call as we will be trying to enter back into our lives and catch up on some sleep.
Thank you all so much for being so amazing in our lives! – Jim and Mary Karwisch
This was the hardest place I think I have ever been as a human. Mary and I clung to each other and healed with each other. We continued to heal but we were sure at this point that whatever had allowed us to get pregnant was too much of a fluke to count on happening again. When we got past this, we believed it was not ever going to happen for us. The door was closed. Then it happened…
In 2013 we got pregnant with our son, Elijah. Mary immediately went on bed rest and stayed there for five solid months. He made it through with flying colors and at the time of this writing, he is a happy and healthy five-year-old boy.
Find a place where I feel safe letting my son play in the yard
This week my wife and I signed a lease on a house here in Rome, Georgia. We are an hour and a half from Atlanta and most of it is for the simple reason that we want Elijah to experience being able to play outside with his friends and not have something horrible happen to him. Mary and I both grew up in the 80’s when you were sent outside for the day and called home for dinner. In today’s world living near a major city just doesn’t allow that to be possible. I read a story not too long ago about a mother who allowed her child to cross the street and play in a patch of manicured grass. Someone called DFCS on her. She had to defend why her child was across the street from her house.
Now I live in a house I never thought we would have, where a child I never thought we would meet can play, while I work from my home office I never thought I would sit in, to book improv training I never thought I would be doing, supported by a wife I never thought I would find.
So what about you? What is still possible for you in life that you have given up on?
Shoulders of Giants (what does this mean?)
Allison Gilmore at DuMore Improv