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Journey Down the Road

04/11/2007 10:14 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

There they were. The words I thought I'd never hear. "Judy, we have to let you go." I immediately gathered all my personal belongings from my desk where I had worked for almost nine years with exemplary service, but for one thing. I left that office thinking that they just didn't understand. They said if my daughter, Hilary, wanted to work, she could get a job at McDonald's. I didn't disagree that McDonald's was a decent place for a teenager to work, but they just didn't get it. I found it amazing that Hilary already KNEW what she wanted to do with her life. I was a fully-grown woman, and I still didn't know what I really wanted to do. My only thoughts had been to help her. Help her, because I was certain about what she wanted. I decided I wouldn't let her know that I had gotten fired because I was spending too much time either leaving work early or taking vacation or sick days to drive her to Seattle for auditions, theatre workshops and showcases. I had made those decisions, not her. She would find out by accident many years later.

But on that day, as I drove away and headed home, my mind struggled with what I was going to do. I had recently separated from my husband, her father. We had taken up temporary residence in an apartment that required me to work two jobs to just barely pay the rent--the greater one of which I had just lost. While I was driving home, it began to rain. A real downpour, nothing new to Bellingham, Washington. I walked into the living room choking on the despair welling up in my chest. I stood in front of the windows while the rain cascaded down the panes in sheets. It was if the skies were crying for me. I could barely see a little part of Bellingham Bay in the far distance...the gray of the water matched the gray of the sky and my heavy heart.

My daughter wanted so much to go to California for the upcoming TV pilot season, and now this. I stood crying, letting my tears fall, and wondering how I was going to take care of us. With nowhere to turn and no one to help, I looked up and asked, "God, I know you don't give us more than we can handle, but my plate is too full. I'm losing everything. What do I do now? What can I possibly do now?"

At that very moment, the clouds parted over the bay and God light--beautiful rays of sunshine--shone down onto the water, turning it wondrously golden. Right then, it hit me. He didn't give me more. He took something away. Something holding me back, because I thought I needed it to support Hilary in following her dream. I knew instantly that I had been given an opportunity. No, God did not send me a message to move to California, but I believe He opened my mind to the possibility that losing my job gave me the freedom to make a choice. And, I was certain of that choice.

I began laughing through my tears. I was stunned by this revelation, and I could barely wait to tell Hilary, "We're going to California!" I had no idea what that actually meant. I had no idea how we would manage. I had no idea of what we would do once we got there or where we would live. But oddly, I wasn't afraid or unsure of any of that. Why? Because looking back at the stages of my life, I had come to regret not taking advantage of past opportunities, and I didn't want that for her. I believed so strongly in Hilary and what she wanted to do that not seizing this opportunity was unthinkable

Over the last few years, I had watched Hilary strive to make her way as a budding, young actor. She was a marvel to me. For every role she did get, there were twenty she didn't. I couldn't imagine going on so many "job interviews" each week and getting rejected more often than not. Yet, she continued auditioning with such spirit and enthusiasm. We would say to each other that she didn't get "that one," because there was a "better one" down the road.

And that's exactly where we were now headed...down the road...to California.

Our grand adventure to Hollywood was the first time that I did the unexpected. The first time I really took a risk. I had no money and could certainly be thought of as either extremely naïve or just plain crazy. But whatever was ahead of us, I knew we would figure it out.

I did not come to this conclusion on my own. I gained this knowledge by watching my daughter. The most revealing thing I discovered was how much courage Hilary has. Some times when the door of opportunity opens, we spend too much time deliberating on whether to go through the door or not, all the while the door is slowly closing. Hilary's youth and complete exuberance for what she'd chosen in life allowed her to be unafraid to take the risks involved in pursuing her dream. Even as a very young girl, when a door of opportunity presented itself, she didn't hesitate. I was always there to support her, but she made the choices to walk through the doors. She followed her instincts. I had learned to believe in them. I completely believed in her.

I truly thought that day that our life was in shambles, because on top of all we'd been through, I'd just been fired from my job. Instead, it was my time to ignore any doubt I might have and to follow her example by walking through that door of opportunity into a myriad of unknown and surprising possibilities. Just one of those times when the roles were reversed, and the daughter taught the mother to be brave and take a chance. To follow her own words that she had spoken so often to her daughter, "Hilary, you can do it. You can do anything if you work hard enough. Just do it."

Nothing could stop us, but us. We simply decided not to let that happen...no matter what might come our way!

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