A Moment That Changed Your Life?

Bill Stimpson & Michelle Stimpson_1st Business Expo

What has been a turning point in your life; a moment or decision that led you toward greater joy? You know, one of those times where you know things will never be the same?

For me, soaking in the summer sun each year reminds me of one of those important times in my life. Back in my days in the corporate world, I had a great job. I enjoyed my role as Training & Development Leader and had the gift of spending my days with cool people, many of whom are still close friends.

Goofing around at work

One of those friends, Michelle, sat in the cube next to me and we’d constantly goof around in between working on projects. We’d laugh at anything and everything, throw notes over the cube wall at each other, and my absolute favorite was Michelle’s horn. I mean, literally—she had an actual “horn” sitting on the top of the cube divider wall. It was a heavy-duty metal one with a big black rubber ball on the end and screws attached to it, intended to clamp on to a kid’s bike. It was loud!

When something exciting would happen (someone announced they were having a baby, for example), Michelle honked the horn. When a long and tedious project was completed, Michelle honked the horn. Or even when it was Friday afternoon (which was reason enough to celebrate), Michelle honked the horn. That simple act always added a touch of fun and color to a stuffy business setting draped in monotone beige.

My favorite honk came in the fall of 2003.

Rewind to a day a few months prior to the honk. It was the middle of summer and I was stuck in my cube. You’ll never hear me use the word “hate” because it feels so harsh. But there are exceptions to every rule. I hate fluorescent lighting, I hate rooms with no windows, and I hate cold air conditioning blowing on me. In my cube, I was surrounded by these things all day, every day. It was July and I had no idea if it was a gorgeous summer day outside with bright sunshine illuminating the world…or if there was a severe thunderstorm ensuing, pounding hail on my car.

And I hated not knowing; not being a part of the nature and the world that fueled me.

5:00 finally came. I packed up my stuff and headed for the door that led me to the parking lot. What happened next is one of those turning points that altered the course of my life.

My moment

I flung open the big steel door, and it felt as though I was stepping out of a meat locker and into a relaxing sauna. The chilly goosebumps on my arms were met with intense heat from the summer sun that completely enveloped my body, my soul, my core. My body relaxed. I tossed on my shades and heard the security door slam shut behind me. I stretched out my arms, looked up toward the sky, took a deep breath in, and as I exhaled let out an “Ahhhh…” The same kind of sound you make when you’re sinking into a hot bath or when someone comes up behind you and starts massaging your tense shoulders.

I stepped out of the cold building with artificial lighting…and into myself.

I’ll never forget that moment. I know exactly what I was wearing. And the exact feeling I had as I walked away from the building, knowing that I would never, ever (ever!) spend another summer in an environment that depressed me.

Again, that job rocked. The people were awesome. The company was incredibly good to me. But this was about something far bigger than “the job.” It was about subjecting myself to an environment that was so far from who I was, that I simply couldn’t do it any longer.

That summer day, which served as one of my biggest turning points, was seven years ago. And I’ve never looked back.

My favorite “honk” was when I announced to Michelle, a few months later, that I would be leaving my job to start my own business. She graciously relinquished her duties as the official honker, stepped back, and said, “You come over here and do it this time.” And as I walked over to the homebase for the horn, Michelle added: “And do it LOUD; it will feel good!”

My turn to step up

So, I did do it loud and she was right—it did feel good. That goofy honk reverberated thunderously throughout the second floor of the building, which I’m sure interrupted my fellow co-workers from whatever they were doing. But in that honk, I heard a voice inside me shouting: “It’s time for me to live!”

The past seven years have been sheer joy working as a Coach and helping my clients experience greater joy in their lives. What an honor and a blessing that I get to do this work! And you can probably imagine that my home office has a big window that’s always open when the weather’s nice. Every once in a while I check in with the list I created just after I left my job with the heading at the top: “Why I Started My Own Gig.” It’s filled with reminders of why I risked and made the big move. It’s a reminder of the importance of following your joy.

What has been a turning point in your life…that led you toward greater joy? We all have many of them (whether you recognize it as a turning point or not). It doesn’t have to be a major job change. Maybe it’s something as simple as reading a particular book, signing up for French lessons, or deciding to eliminate sugar from your diet. Following your joy shows up in all kinds of ways.

And if you can’t think of a particular turning point from the past, tell us: What would it take for you to honk your horn? 

Whatever it is, we’d all love to hear!

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6 Responses to “A Moment That Changed Your Life?”

  • I was married when I was 17 and pregnant. Four years later I was mom to four girls. My third pregnancy was twins. The turning point came when the twins went to school I went to college. It took me 9 and 1/2 years to finish. I graduate with my master’s degree three years after that the same year daughter no. 2 graduated from high school. Big aha moment and what an effect it had. Oh and I’m still married to their father;)
    I love the horn idea!

  • Maryanne says:

    Love today’s post.

    I could tell you about a few days where I made seemingly big changes that altered the path my life has followed, but what feels far more profound to me are the small changes I make every day that keep me aligned with my inner guidance.

    It seems I’m given 100s of daily moments to choose to make positive change. For me, this means choosing to see the big picture and to ditch blaming and complaining. It means to express gratitude in the face of challenge, to play with my kids rather than working, to be patient and intentional rather than reacting with emotion. And it means taking action every day to create a positive mindset and open to new possibilities so life remains and adventure.

    All of these small changes I choose to make each day add up over time and create what looks like a completely new picture of my life. Funny how much easier change feels the more I do it.

    It’s all good!

  • @ Tess: Wow!!! This gave me goosebumps. The cycle of life…what a joy and what a proud moment/string of moments for you. So much to be proud of. Thank you for sharing a poignant part of your life.

    @ Maryanne: What really struck me in what you said is how each day you are given “moments to choose.” There is such wisdom and strength in realizing that we do, in each moment, have the power to actually “choose.” Thanks so much for bringing this to light and for reminding us that the little things really ARE the big things. Amen!

  • Barb says:

    Michelle! so many moments to write about ——

    having my son and daughter tell me [when they were in their early 20’s] that they really HAD heard me all those times I talked with them – and guided them to making their own decisions

    then: son asking me why I didn’t learn about and use natural methods for the adult on-set asthma I was overwhelmed with at a particular time – one question was all it took to turn me to the path of becoming a Naturopath!

    discovering, by chance, that I am a powerful energy healer – WOW!

    and how about: when my husband died – definitely life-changing! and eventually a change from grief to renewed joy …

    and lately: being “let go” from a JOB that was becoming increasingly stressful – thus freeing me to create my own brighter, more abundant future!

    I like Maryanne’s comment – here’s how I see things: we are gifted with many “choice points” [life changing moments] every day and it’s our joy to discover those and act on them [or not] all the time!

  • Jane says:

    Fantastic story and message Michelle!

    Lately I think a horn honked deep inside me and the pieces just fell into JOY!

    Glad you came outside of that building 7 years ago. What an image! You have a heart of sunshine…it’s the perfect match for who you are….and your work, LifeShine!

  • @ Barb: Thanks for sharing so many great things here! Isn’t it amazing how one simple moment in time or the passing of a loved one or even a simple question asked of us…can change things in such a profound way? Cheers to being “let go” and reaching for a more bright and abundant future! :)

    @ Jane: What a sweet comment–thank you! You were one of my big cheerleaders as I made that move seven years ago, which I will never forget. I love knowing that a horn honked deep inside you recently…leading you toward joy. Awesome!

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Michelle Stimpson: Editor/Writer

Michelle Stimpson Hi and thanks for visiting - so glad you're here! This blog is especially for cool people who want to experience joy and live a life of purpose. Welcome!

Here you'll find great stories that will inspire you and remind you that life is good, and there's an abundance of joy all around us. Simply put: When you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy...the magic begins to unfold.

Start by checking out the "Best Of" page and be sure to consider subscribing above. Thank you and cheers to joy!

Michelle Joy Stimpson
Executive Editor & Writer
Life Coach, LifeShine

Bill Stimpson: Partner-In-Crime

Bill Stimpson Hi! Not only will you see me “show up” in many of Michelle’s stories and posts here, but I also serve as Michelle’s editor, helping her clarify intentions and make her posts shine.

One of the great joys in my life is being involved with this blog! It’s a constant reminder for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. It also feels great to be sharing so many of these joys with you - in hopes that you, too, will find ways to focus on your own joyful experiences.

Here's to an abundance of joy in your life!

Bill Stimpson
Hubby & Associate Editor

The Parent Company

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