Define Life on Your Own Terms

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By Dawn Onley

Deep in my core, I’m a writer. I’m a lover of words. I understand sentence structure and the certain cadence that accompanies the way words are strung together. I started writing poems in middle school and knew by high school that I would be a journalist.

My husband works in transportation. He knows buses and trains and schedules. He knows safety. He’s an ace at customer service. If you’re ever lost in D.C., he’s the one you want on the phone.

We are also real estate investors. This still amazes me because somehow, it doesn’t seem plausible. Yet, it’s a fact and we have four houses to prove it (five, if you count the one we’re living in).

We did it by being scrappy. By setting short-term and long-term goals, and then acting on those goals. By saving. By taking calculated risks. By studying different neighborhoods and markets. By reading articles and books. By comparing different programs and bank rates. By filling out copious amounts of paperwork. By making connections with lenders and contractors. By living our HGTV addiction. By believing we could. By not being deterred.

We did it by defining life on our own terms. By having faith. By being resilient. By refusing to box ourselves into one career, one dream, one goal, one purpose. We knew we were capable of being and doing so much more.

These last three points are particularly important. Let me explain why:

Faith. Mary McLeod Bethune said “without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.” It takes a faith bigger and wider than we can comprehend to achieve our wildest dreams. No dream is possible without faith. If there is something that you’ve been wanting to do, take the step. Just do it.

i can

Resilience. Like any investor, we take our hits from time to time. No one is immune from this. In fact over the past two years, we’ve experienced quite a few “hits” – when anything and everything that seemingly could go wrong, went wrong. All at once. In every, single, property. Yet, somehow, we’re still standing. We try to remain lighthearted and easy with each challenge, knowing that this too shall pass. In some ways, it makes us stronger. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” according to the Book of James 1:2. Persistence and resilience determine success.

Refusing to live in one box. Please know that I’m a fan of learning something so well that a person becomes an expert at it. I think there are far too many people who barely touch the surface of anything – dipping and dabbling in a whole bunch of areas and becoming a jack of all trades, master of none. However, I’m not a fan of anybody – that includes you and I – setting limitations on what we can and can’t do. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Philippians 4:13: “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” So while I may put in the time and energy to really study and learn an area, I’m on a life journey to grow and elevate and to do things that push me into new dimensions.

This means that even though I work in communications and my husband works in transportation, our dreams aren’t contained in those fields.

This year, we’re taking classes to discover new passions. We’re pushing ourselves past our comfort zones and to new heights.

We’re learning more about our strengths and our struggles, and enjoying life along the way.

Calvin and I -- family over everything


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Eljay says:

    Amazing!! you and your husband ae surely a great example. to many of my peers obtaining such things seem to be a bit of a reach. with everything just going up its like how can we get both feet on the ground. It my goal to be a home owner. this was a great read

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Eljay! Best wishes to you on your goal of being a home owner. You can do it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary O. Hoy says:

    Wonderful Article. Reminds me instantly of “A family that prays together stays together “. You both have accomplished so much and will continue to see the results of your efforts by putting God First and Family second! So proud of you and your desire to never give up, but instead have Faith in God to lead and direct your paths!!

    Liked by 1 person

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