By Meghan Bailey

Earlier in the year, I went to a Vegas Golden Knights hockey game with my husband and 4-year-old son. We were cheering and enjoying everything a VGK game has to offer, but I also remember not knowing exactly what was going on. I didn’t know the rules or why the whistle would blow randomly. My family left for a snack run, and with the game on break, I leaned over to the person sitting next to me. He looked knowledgeable, so I decided to ask him what just happened because I did not know. Little did I know at the time, but that simple question to a random stranger would end up being a big part of my transformation, and not just as a hockey fan.

One year ago, I woke up realizing that my life was no longer a life that brought me joy. A life that seemed pretty on the outside, but inside, I was begging myself to make a change. I embarked on a project that first began as a checklist of new things that I wanted to do. A spontaneous trip, new creative projects and foods to try; but this project would become more about searching for my soul again.

Since the start, I challenged myself every day to do something I would not ordinarily do. Whether I ate something different, read about something new to me, talked to a stranger or took a new route to work. While doing something new every day was a good start to the challenge, it never felt like enough. I needed to find the one thing that would bring out the passion for life I once had.

It wasn’t until mid-March that the stars would align, and that passion would start to unveil itself. My company had entered a Corporate Challenge and one of the categories was corporate ninja, a mild take on the TV show, “American Ninja Warrior.” I decided to go to a training session with some of my colleagues. After the session, a friend of the same random stranger I talked to at the hockey game was there and invited me to try some obstacles, which I was able to complete. That is when a piece of the passion I was missing came back. Since then, I have been regularly training obstacles and rock climbing. I’ve always loved athletics, but as you get older your options are slim. To be able to find something I could use my previous athletic background on was a breath of fresh air.

As I moved into the summer months, I had my fair share of challenges. I would slip back into what I knew to be comfortable. It was the unwavering support and listening ear of my husband, Wes, who would help me figure out what I needed to do to ensure I could continue to grow and achieve the goal I set at the beginning of the year. We both knew what needed to happen next; but knowing this part focused around my whole existence for the past seven years and it made it more difficult.

I’ve always been someone who places self-worth in all the wrong places, not seeing myself for who I am versus what I do. For the past seven years, I had become Meghan, Director of Marketing. But, my job was no longer fulfilling and challenging me to become more and do better. I knew in my heart of hearts that it was time to leave and embrace the world looking for something new. At the end of August, I said my goodbyes and left behind the identity that I had known for seven years.

After the hard choices were made, I felt a sense of relief and guilt. The relief came from being able to finally feel that I was breaking down the barriers that were keeping me on autopilot and the guilt that I was somehow letting someone down. It took a couple of weeks for me to understand that the only person I’ve been letting down was myself, and it was time to take steps to change the way I thought.

With the magazine on deadline, I still had two months left of my project, but I don’t think this project is ever meant to end. This project was created to help me turn off autopilot, but now it has become so much more. It was about embracing changes in the trajectory of life. Take a chance, make things different, and see where life takes you. Remember that question to the hockey guy? The conversation introduced me to people who have become good friends, one of whom introduced me to the sport I now love and train regularly, and in a roundabout way has strengthened my family bond.

To sum up what has been a long year, here is what I’ve learned:

First: You can lean on people, but you have to rely on yourself. You must listen to your inner voice and act upon the things that feel right.

Second: Good things happen, bad things happen, but the reaction and feeling are yours alone to experience. I’ve had plenty of successes and a lot of failures this year and the one thing I learned was that it was okay to not get too high or too low.

Finally: Not everyone or everything in your life has to play a big part. A coffee with your neighbor doesn’t have to be fostered into more, a pickup kickball game doesn’t have to turn into forming a team for a league. Sometimes you need sprinkles of change that last for that time and place only.

Find your passion, live your life and love the people you surround yourself with.

A few words of thanks…

Taking just a moment to thank those who helped shape my year of growth. To my ninja family, thank you for doing awful, but amazing obstacle challenges with me and sharing your knowledge. To my game night crew, you are one of the gifts I received through this project, thank you for being 100 percent authentic. To my best friends, Brit and Kenna, you are everything to me and I am lost without you guys. To my host daughter, Filippa, you came into my life at the right time and remind me every day that life is about adventure. To my son, Logan, you are my heart and soul; the reason I started this project. I only hope to continue to make you proud. Lastly, to my husband, Wes, you are my best friend, partner in crime and the reason I make it through each day. I am lucky to have you, cheers to forever.