How many times as a child were you asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? For those who were certain that they wanted to be a doctor, nurse, lawyer, astronaut, truck driver, baseball player, or archeologist (to name a few), it probably changed over time.

Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” has inspired countless conversations about our choices in life. Here is the last verse.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

One can never go back and make that decision again. What has been done is done. But does that mean we need to stay on that road?

Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880. She spoke at six months old and was walking by the age of one. It was not until she was 19-months-old that she came down with an illness accompanied by a high temperature. It has never been determined what she had although some guess at scarlet fever or meningitis. The life her parents dreamed about for her vanished in a moment. She became blind and deaf. She was faced with a road in life that would be extremely difficult. However, what she did with her life was her decision. With the help of Anne Sullivan, her teacher, who came into her life at the age of six, everything changed dramatically. After trial and error and dealing with Helen’s many temper tantrums, they established a way to communicate. Anne would spell words into Helen’s hand and then immediately associate them with an object. The first word she learned was “water.” This created a new world for Helen. According to www.biography.com, “She [Keller] would toil for 25 years to learn to speak so that others could understand her.” She attended Radcliffe College and graduated, cum laude, in 1904. Helen wrote a book entitled The Story of My Life which was later adapted into a movie, The Miracle Worker. She was interested in politics and social issues, traveled extensively, and became a well-known speaker. Among the honors Helen received were the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1936, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, and the election to the Women’s Hall of Fame in 1965.

If you always wanted to write a book, there is still time. According to the Guinness World Records, Jim Downing of the United States is the oldest male author in the world. He wrote a book called The Other Side of Infamy published in 2016. He was 102-years-old. Bertha Wood of the United Kingdom is the oldest female author to have her first book published. She wrote Fresh Air and Fun: The Story of a Blackpool Holiday Camp that was published on her 100th birthday. She started writing the book when she was 90-years-old.

Mariska Hargitay, also known as Olivia Benson on the TV show “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, had a very famous mother, Jayne Mansfield, who was a popular actress. Mansfield died in a terrible car accident. Hargitay was three-years-old and in the back seat of the car with two of her siblings. Her mother and two others in the front seat died. The children survived. Hargitay told Redbook in 2009, “Losing my mother at such an early age is the scar of my soul…But I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today. I understand the journey of life. I had to go through what I did to be here.”

Keanu Reeves, known for his acting roles in The Matrix and John Wick, has had many sad times in his life. He dealt with his father leaving when he was a young boy, his sister battling leukemia, his girlfriend delivering a stillborn baby at eight months, and 18 months later his girlfriend dying in a car accident. He told Parade Magazine, “Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say ‘It’s gone and I’m better.’ They’re wrong. When the people you love are gone, you’re alone.” He is known for his generous donations to charitable organizations and kindness to others.

Shania Twain, a well-known pop and country artist, was born into poverty in Canada. She had five siblings and an abusive stepfather. When she was 22-years-old, her parents were killed in a car accident. Shania, who decided she must take care of her siblings, started singing locally to earn money. When faced with the reality of the situation, she knew she had to help her family despite any other plans she might have had. Little did she know that her singing would make her famous.

I have a plaque in my house that reads “Love What You Do.” People can change jobs many times in their lives. Who says that you have to do one job your entire life? No matter what the circumstances of your life have been, you can change. You will once again have to decide between two roads – the one you are on or a new one.

We are beginning a new year. Countless changes have happened in our world in the last two years and we are heading into the third year of COVID. There are many challenges and opportunities in this world. Are you ready for a change?

Life is a journey. Open your mind to new opportunities.