On this Mother’s Day, I’m reminded that, last year, I missed my son’s kindergarten graduation.

I wasn’t doing anything important at work or juggling too many things. I was just scattered and disorganized and it slipped my mind.

And what’s worse, I sent Warner to school that day in torn shorts and un-combed hair, so everyone else’s perfect photos from that day—with their perfectly coiffed kids and my little uncombed bum—are a reminder of my guilt.

When I realized what I had done, I immediately drove to school and had the front desk call him down to the office for early dismissal.

But when he walked in with his hair all in knots, his torn shorts and tear-streaked face, I absolutely broke down in tears and immediately took him for an ice cream and an apology.

But here’s what happened next and how I think it applies to anyone who’s considering travel writing or photography…

It’s been a full year since that day, and Warner hasn’t felt bad even once that I missed his graduation.

Instead, he’s asked on at least five occasions if I can ever pull him out of school early for an ice cream again.

He ranks that day among the highest of his life—which is so strange to me, because it’s above amusement parks, trips to France, and play dates with his friends.

I’m telling you this because it’s easy to get where you want to go when you know where you’re going.

If you sit down and write up a dream and then make all your next choices match the steps you need to reach that dream, the path is obvious. It miraculously rises up to greet you.

But when you have so much going on that you can’t keep your head on straight… it’s hard to know where the path is and the world seems to spin out of control. At least that’s how it feels for me.

And yet, even failures during this time can be re-directed, mistakes fixed, apologies made.

So really, the best thing you can do for yourself is to sit down… write down those dreams… and then let yourself off the hook when something falls through.

Make it right, of course, but don’t let it stop you from continuing down the path.

Travel writing has its great perks and local rewards. And photography is in such high demand that you can pretty much do anything with your skills. But it’s not really about whichever one of these you choose. It’s about choosing something—anything—that gets you to the lifestyle you want.

A clear head comes from putting your dream in writing. Forward motion comes from making choices that match your dream.

Mistakes can usually be fixed with ice cream. So have at it!

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