What Risk Are You Glad You Took?

It’s often wise to play it safe: Buckle your seat belt; toss expired milk; look both ways before you cross the street. But now and then you have to take a leap of faith. This month, readers celebrate the bold moves that brought them big rewards.


Photo by Christopher Silas Neal

Five years ago, I decided to search for my birth family. With just one phone call to the adoption agency that handled my case, I found them—my biological mother, father, and five half siblings—all scattered in various parts of a town just eight miles from where I grew up. Now I not only know people who look like me but also understand why I always wear my sunglasses on top of my head and dip my bread in pasta sauce.

Leigh A. Reposa

Narragansett, Rhode Island

At age 58, I joined my adult daughter on an 18-day, 100-mile trek through the Himalayan Mountains. It was the toughest, most wonderful experience I have ever had. The greatest moment: when we reached the summit of Thorong-La Pass, at over 17,700 feet, and my daughter turned to me with pride and said, “Mom, you are such a badass!”

Mary Wesley

Statesville, North Carolina

Young and naive, my husband and I married at age 20, became parents at 21, and were divorced by the time we were 30. The best gamble I ever took: remarrying him at age 35, when we realized we still loved each other. That was eight years ago, and we haven’t looked back since.

Carrie Mihalko

McKeesport, Pennsylvania

In 1998 I watched a movie called Dance With Me and was immediately seized with the desire to learn ballroom dancing. Unfortunately, my husband refused to accompany me to lessons. I cringed at the idea of attending by myself, but I did it anyway. For the next decade, I danced competitively—making new friends and losing weight in the process.

Denae Monroe

Bonney Lake, Washington

I was the victim of a violent crime last summer, and as a result I became fearful. However, because of my job as a social worker, the opportunity arose to teach a parenting class to fathers in prison. I was terrified at first, but with the support of my friends and family, I summoned the courage to teach the class. My students helped me heal without even knowing it. Watching them change for the better gave me hope that I could change, too.

Kat Steiner

Drums, Pennsylvania

In 2009 I opened a bakery, even though the economy was bad and I was only 21. Why? Our town had no bakery, and I wanted to show people just how delicious homemade goodies could be. Three years later, I have a small staff, am working toward paying off my loans, and, best of all, can treat myself to a cookie whenever I want one.

Alixe Ingoglia

Columbia, Pennsylvania