Turn Right or Turn Left? Regrets…

A few years ago I wrote an article for the Tribune about my friend Judy and the death of her 16 year old son. It caused a bit of a stir with radio stations and religious groups calling to interview her. Judy and I got together and I told her of a book I wanted to write about women of all religious backgrounds who used their faith to get them through times of crisis. Amazingly, Judy had dreamt of the same sort of book. We started a collaboration.

We sent out emails and pleas on message boards nationwide for interviews. We talked to friends and strangers and other authors and slowly, very slowly began writing stories. I worked on it at a snail’s pace; fitting the book in between the demands of my family. It was a theme that I was and still am passionate about– our faith doesn’t keep bad things from happening to us; faith gets us through the hard times when they do come.

And then, inexplicably, I made a decision. We were struggling financially, worried about staying in our big new home and needed extra income. I decided to open an online store. How could it go wrong? I thought it would take only a few hours a day, be simple to run and bring in some money. I dropped out of the book project and opened my online store. I turned left when I should have turned right.

The store has been a living nightmare. Long hours, unreliable manufacturers, unhappy customers, diminished sleep and health and no money. I’ve unwittingly made some unethical moves, hurt people I care about and lost any shred of self-esteem I once possessed.

But above all I’ve neglected my family. Far too many hours have been spent shipping packages or updating the website when I should have been playing RISK or having a tea party. My children call the store “The Despised Child.”

Surprisingly, the store is now profitable(if you consider 25 cents an hour a good wage), so we’ve kept it open one more season to recoup our losses. But I don’t care how well it does this Spring. No paltry amount of money is worth the damage I’ve done to my family. I hate myself for this.


I was taking pictures of Mary for the store this morning when my friend Judy came by. The book is finished! She gave me three copies(and one for Brenda, Chapter Five) and we talked and talked. I read through much of the book as I waited for carpools and shipped packages today. Judy did an amazing job. The book is beautiful and inspirational. I recognized many of the names and stories, but Judy took the book in a new and wonderful direction. It was much better than I could have done.

But as I read it I cried, not because of the beautiful stories, but quite selfishly for these two wasted years, for neglecting my babies and for passing up quite possibly the only time someone will actually want me to write with them.

Ben, Stefan, Hans Xander— I know you’ll read this. I am so sorry I chose poorly. I’m sorry you’ve been pushed aside and ignored. I’m sorry for the days I picked you up late and the times your questions fell on deaf ears. I realize in the vast scheme of things this is a much smaller regret than choosing to take drugs or have affair. But I mourn every moment taken away from you.

And when you are faced with a choice, please, please remember to follow your heart and your dreams and not the allure of a pot of fool’s gold.

January 24, 2008
January 27, 2008



  1. www.egoimpact.com

    January 26, 2008

    Michelle, you are so successfully honest! How many of us are perfect? The way I see it, you didn’t f-a-i-l you had the courage to f-i-n-d out. You had the best of intentions and you jumped in to help bail water the best you knew how. What a great example!

    You are rich in wisdom and that will fuel that book [s] you have inside you. Sharlene Hawkes (Miss America 1984) wrote a great book, “Kissing A Frog.” I love the 5 Rules to Remember at the end of her book. Peek at page 246 to find:

    1. Factor in the past and move on, quickly.

    2. Answer the call to action.

    3. Exercise courage–even if it’s the size of a mustard seed.

    4. Stretch your parameters.

    5. Remember, if the pond isn’t growing, it’s shrinking.

    Michelle, put me on the list as one of the first people to send your new book to! (www.lulu.com is a super site for self-publishing if you want to go that way.)

    I know your book will be spectacular because you’ll be doing what you looooove.

    Talk to you soon,
    Cousin Annemarie

  2. Ashli S.

    January 26, 2008

    I think we all have regrets and when one throws itself in your face we can’t help but be regretful….. But I have to say that I think you are a fantastic mom and great friend. You have a listening ear and such a good heart. I am grateful to live in your midst.
    Hang in there!


  3. twoelves

    January 27, 2008

    Wow, your last entry was so sad to me. I related to it so much for obvious reasons, but I feel just a bit differently I guess. Even with the time and money I lost, I learned some lessons (some were not so fun ones about how much time I would need to be on the computer for example)but still lessons, now know how to manage and run a website (it took way to much time yes), but most importantly, I met some of the most cherised friends that I would have never met had I not embarked on that journey. I’m definitely ready for something else now, but I guess I see some positive in it as well.

  4. Mama

    January 27, 2008

    I’ve made some wrong turns myself. Be proud that you have shown your kids that sometimes we make decisions we somewhat regret, but we stick to things, see them through, and we learn from our wrong turns. When they make wrong turns of their own, they won’t be so afraid that the world is over. You will prevail, and so will they. You’re teaching them coping skills. Be proud of yourself, Michelle. You are a good person, and a human, and this is how humans act.

  5. Tricia

    January 28, 2008

    Oh Michelle. I’ve thought alot about the whole “left turn, right turn” concept in relation to my life. And I think the conclusion I’ve come to is that sometimes you just don’t know. You had no way of knowing how things would turn out when you made that decision. You had no way of predicting that two years later you would be where you are. The beautiful and most freeing thing that I’ve discovered is that in the midst of “not knowing”, God does. And He’s not limited by our limited view and the choices we make based on that view. He gives us that freedom, and yes, sometimes we fall. Sometimes our choices bring regret. But I truly believe that in the midst of our human-ness, He is always preparing us for greatness. Just keep listening to Him.

  6. StubbyDog

    January 28, 2008

    I agree completely with Mama. Our kids are ALWAYS learning from us, and mistakes are no exception…in fact sometimes they can be the greatest teaching tools of all. How you deal with life’s disappoinments, unreached expectations, and plain old “shouldn’t have done that”‘s will be mirrored in your children.

  7. Mitchell Family

    January 29, 2008

    I believe one of God’s tender mercies is giving us second chances. There will be another book. And it will be wonderful. Ruth

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