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In the start of 2010, I was at the top of my game, well at least as far as my career goes. I was making over six-figures practicing law at a regional law firm in Connecticut and really sharpening my legal skills as a newly minted attorney.

I had just taken my boys on a road trip to Disney and had the off-chance to stop in North Carolina to see my father. It had been years since I had seen him in person. The divorce from my mom sent him reeling away from Connecticut to find himself and North Carolina where he was born, is where he ended up.

The visit was just like old times. He fried chicken for us, showed us the new money homes in his up and coming neighborhood; we even got to meet his fiancée. She was much younger than him, but still older than me so I didn’t really dwell on it. As long as he was happy at 58, it didn’t really matter to me.

When we returned to Connecticut, I got back into my work flow and relished the new memories I had made in North Carolina with my dad. All was well with our relationship now and I was looking forward to him getting to know his grandsons more. Until I got the call.

Someone called me in the middle of the night and I didn’t answer. I didn’t recognize the number so I just let it go to voicemail. When I called back and heard the message I only listened to the first two sentences and started screaming. I still don’t know how I didn’t wake the boys.

“Jamilia, it’s your aunt. Your father has passed away…he must have gone in his sleep.” Like I said, I didn’t hear the whole message, I just began to scream. Seconds later my doorbell rang. It was my mom and stepdad. They timed it perfectly. The news got to them first and they drove over to my place because they knew I would lose it .

This is how is began for me. This is what prompted me to chase my dream of living in China. If my father could die so suddenly, without notice, or reason then nothing is really promised to us. Life is just a game of choices and risk – those who play it safe only have limited certainties to show for it. There is no other reward…perhaps just regret. I didn’t want to regret not chasing my dreams. So I went for it.

Was moving abroad to China as a single mom of two small boys risky? Hell to the yea. But it paid off in ways unimaginable. I’m still learning and growing, but it took a horrible tragedy, a horrible mess to push me out there to take the first step.

What’s your mess?

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