Admirable Decisions


I admire people who make big life changes – with reason and wisdom. I have known a few people who have balanced work, partner relationships and children in dramatic ways. Most of them have faced judgment, and some, ridicule.

There was Nora, someone I worked with for just a few months. She had three grown children, the youngest just launched. She met a new partner who lived halfway across Canada, and they decided to combine households in his city. After she’d given notice at work, and shortly before moving, she had a conversation with her new partner that made her worry. He had grown children living on their own, and he felt strongly that they needed to be self-sufficient throughout their adult lives. Nora wanted a home in which her adult children were always welcome to visit, to stay, or even to live, if the situation called for it.  So, instead of moving in with Mr. New, she decided to rent her own place in his city, and see how things worked out.

There was Brent, an active retired widower with a home by the sea that he loved very much. He met Kate, who had a home-based business, and no propensity to give up her own place. They decided to marry and to keep his and hers houses. (I mentioned this to a new acquaintance recently, who is also a comfortable senior with a loved home, and she said, “How can I get me one of those?!”)

There was Laurie, a high-level manager I worked with, whose child was miserable at school. Her classmates were cliquish, she was under pressure to participate in bad behaviour, and she was neither brave enough nor mature enough to strike her own path. Laurie felt she couldn’t resolve the situation. However, her daughter had done well in soccer, and had recently joined a state-level team. She was getting along well with her team mates, many of whom lived in another town some distance away. Laurie quit her job and moved her family to the same town where her daughter’s team mates lived. I ran into Laurie at a library conference several years later. “Oh yeah, it all worked out!” she said. Her child was accepted at her new school where she already had friends from her team. Laurie felt confident going back to work after about 18 months, and given her talents, she found a comparable job.

There was Jill, a senior whose children moved far away one by one, as children do. Jill had a home and a life where she was, but it would have been tempting to move to the same city as one of her children, to be closer to them and the grandchildren. Instead, Jill chose an entirely new community, known for being retirement-friendly. Relatives were within driving distance, hours rather than minutes away. She loves her new neighbours and church community – and even has an important ministry now. She loves the feeling of having something to give, rather than being a burden to her family. Any fears of that are exaggerated – they would never feel that way – but I completely relate to her desire for independence.

There was Haley, a single professional with two kids who lived with her mom, also a single professional. Haley didn’t move back into her mom’s house, as you might think. Her parents divorced after she had been raising her own kids for several years. She and her mom looked at their options and decided to buy a house together. The children attended school and daycare during the work week, Haley’s mom provided some back-up care, and they shared cooking, cleaning, bills and maintenance duties for the house.

Then there is my very own Rom. He was self-employed in the UK, and expected to build a similar business when he moved to Canada. He gave himself 6 months, and discovered there was no market for the services he had provided back in Sussex. Rom accepted that harsh reality, took a 9-to-5 tech job for an employer, and has not looked back.


To everyone who has stubbornly held onto their rural home with no money, but a big vegetable garden and a deer in the freezer. To everyone who has done without so they could keep on making art or music. To everyone who has made a bad, bad investment and dug out of the debt.

To everyone who has left an abusive relationship even when their hearts were telling them, “He’s just a big softie underneath and he needs me.” To everyone who has persisted for years to get a proper medical diagnosis. To everyone who has finally said “I can’t” and reached out for help.

To everyone who has to be the responsible one and do the dutiful things.


To you, and to Nora, Brent, Laurie, Jill, Haley and Rom, you are my everyday heroes. I salute you.

Who do you admire?


  1. each and everyone of them for making the decision to do what was best for them

  2. Dar, this is an excellent post to highlight everyday heroes who make the tough calls. I think folks should share the life event decisions, as it helps others. Well done, my friend, Keith

    • Thanks; I agree. I’m sure there are many more personal stories that people keep to themselves.

      • Dar, one I am asked to tell is when I changed my mind about leaving a company as I packed my office up. I called my wife and boss seeing if it was OK to stay, then I called the new company I would have worked for. Life event and the best decision I could have made. Keith

      • That is remarkable, Keith. Not many people would do an about-face after making the public commitment to leave. I’m glad it worked out!

  3. I know many people who have packed up one life and moved onto another – some making decisions against the normal flow of things. All my family on both sides are migrants and Australians are fairly mobile lot too possibly as result of the migrant history. But the person I admire, I admire more for her graciousness and open heart. She is always welcoming; her house open to all. Her two sons always had friends over and my friend was, and is, generous in feeding others. She welcomed her sons’ girlfriends when they moved in. Both had mothers who died early. One even stayed after the son moved out for work.

    Now my friend is selling and moving interstate, her sons’ friends are sad st the house being sold. They joke about pooling their funds and buying it. Of course it isn’t the house they want. It is my friend’s warmth and love and generosity.

  4. Jen

    Loved the progression on the pictures. I admire my Grandma in her mid 90s, who has lost her home, her stuff, her sight, and her mobility (all due to age) with grace and a zest for each day. Gosh, she’s strong!

  5. The uniting element between all the people highlighted in your wonderful post is that they all seemed to think long and hard about what was best for *them* and not for someone else. It can be especially hard to walk that path, to even step off on it, when many others think another path would be best for you or that you’re just plain crazy for your choice.

    People who take big chances are my heroes too.

  6. I would add YOU to the list too!

  7. Many of my family were immigrants to this country and whenever I think of the dangers they faced in order to set foot on solid land, I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been (so far) to never have to consider a similar flight. And immigrants now, seeking asylum for themselves and their families from war and other political considerations, their plight reminds me so much of the struggles that were not that long ago in my family history. And people who continue to strive, even in the face of so much adversity, I salute them.

    • A very timely example. I find it gut-wrenching to read about modern refugees, especially the ones who are detained or turned away. In my great-grandparents’ generation, when you emigrated, you never saw your home country relatives again – ever. I’m so glad never to have faced those kinds of decisions in my lifetime.

  8. Fiona

    I’ve always thought your big life decisions were pretty amazing. Moving to a new country…leaving a difficult relationship…supporting Link every step of the way (and advocating more widely)…meeting Rom and forging a new life together (among others.) There is a lot of heroism in day to day life and it’s wonderful to hear people’s stories.

  9. Lois

    Dar. I loved this post! I too decided to move a short distance away from my extended family to raise my boys in a community that was better suited both for them and for my disability and never regretted it. My hero is a woman I went to high school with. She married young to a man who had mental problems and wasn’t a supportive or good man to raise children with. She left him, took her five children and struck out on her own. Her parents would not help yet she put herself back through school to pursue her dreams. After graduation she moved a couple of hours away where she started her own midwife practice, was able to buy a home with land where she could have horses ( another dream of hers) and finally met a wonderful supportive man. Her children thrived in their new situation and have grown to follow their dreams after seeing their mother show them that if you want something bad enough you can make it happen.

  10. Courages people – it is hard to leave what you know and go off into the unknown. Taking and making difficult decisions is a true test of faith that you will get by whatever.

  11. Jen

    Dar, I wanted to tell you that on the tv show “Billions” there is a new character .. “Taylor Mason… my pronouns are they, them and our.” Go to YouTube if you don’t watch the show and search on Billions Taylor Mason.

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