The RedDress Club: Red Writing Hood – Detour

Joining this week’s meme – describe a detour in your life or a character’s…where were you heading, where did you end up?
The path had been set out for me by my family and its borders were clear-cut and not-to-be-argued.

And it began here: be smart, but not too smart.

a.) Smart enough to go to college. But not smart enough to intimidate potential partners.
b.) Smart enough to attract (and keep) a fine man.
c.) Smart enough to get married and then live nearby.
d.) Smart enough to figure out how to have babies AND smart enough to stop at two.
e.) Smart enough to realize that my entire raison d’etre would be to devote my life to husband and kids but not smart enough to question that devotion – to wonder why, to yearn for something more, something different, something outside the pale of how-things-are-done.

And I pretty much bought it. I was raised in the 50’s and early 60’s, I loved and was grateful for my family and I believed what I was taught. So…I went to college. I met a fine man. I married him in my senior year, at the tender age of 20. But the detour began fairly early on and it was a good one.

Instead of moving near either of our families, we boarded a freighter 8 months after our wedding and sailed to Africa, living for 2 years in Zambia to teach school. That fine man I married didn’t fit the pre-determined mold in some ways and together, we began to cast our own.

I did have those babies, but shocked all by adding a 3rd one to the mix. I did stay at home to raise those kids and was (mostly) glad to do so. But always, always there was a pull, a restlessness, a conviction that there was more for me to do somewhere, somehow.

I was active in volunteer work, in both church and community, so some of that restlessness was soothed by creative opportunities to think outside the box – just a little bit! – and to make contributions that were valued and useful. Things like producing an original musical, raising funds for the local hospital, offering moms younger than myself a bi-weekly opportunity for community, childcare and conversation. I entertained a lot, I decorated my house up the yin-yang; I encouraged my kids to build strong characters and to dream big dreams. I was a good girl for 20+ years.

Then, as my youngest entered his senior year of high school, I took a terrifying detour – at least for me, given my story: I went to seminary, entering the world of academia at the age of 44. And I absolutely loved studying. And I loved teaching (I was a TA for six years) I surprised myself and everyone in my family by pursuing ordination. Fourteen years ago, I took a job 125 miles away from family and was stretched in ways I could not have imagined in my early 20s. And my husband said, “For 30 years you’ve been building your life around mine; now it’s my turn.” And he commuted that distance for over 10 years so that I could do this work. It’s been a good trip – but not one taken on the prescribed pathway – not at all. And that is a very good thing.

Get a personal letter from Diana twice a month

Sign up for *More Wondering. . . * a monthly personal letter from Diana to you, available only to email subscribers. As thanks, receive a copy of Diana's new ebook,30 Ways of Aging Gracefully.

powered by TinyLetter

To receive blog posts in your inbox, sign up below.


  1. I’ve stopped by from RBD and I am so glad I did. Fantastic story!!

  2. You’ve lived quite a life full of adventure!

    It sounds lie each path led to the other. meant to be, yes?

    I adore the Africa move and want to hear more! So i suppose your job is done here! 🙂