My plan was simple. I was going to become a photographer for National Geographic, travel the world, have great affairs. Finally, at 40-years-old, I would have a daughter with my most clever lover.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, I married my high school sweetheart and had my daughter when I just 22. We moved back to a suburb outside of Olympia, Washington where I took a job as a secretary and grew increasingly depressed with my unremarkable trajectory with each inch of expanded belly.

Then my daughter was born. Instant alchemy.

Just a single week of holding her in my arms and the understanding that I am the most powerful force in her life sunk into my consciousness. All kinds of glorious revelations flowed forth.

What kind of life do I want for my daughter? I want her to live her dreams, to bravely pursue her passions and interests freely.

If I am the most powerful force in her life, and the best example she has of a life a woman can lead, I must live to my fullest capacity.

I started doing the things that I would want my daughter to do. I admitted my greatest dream. (To, gulp, be a writer!) I re-enrolled in a four-year college and majored in writing, career opportunities be damned. The very month I graduated, I moved my little family overseas to live in Japan. If travel was what I wanted, then no excuse should keep me from packing my bags and boarding the plane.

I don’t expect her to do exactly as I have done. I expect her to do exactly as she wants to do.

When I was pregnant, pitifully employed and ghosting the same strip malls of my youth, despair oozed my from very being. How lucky that her arrival gave my life the driving meaning I required to kick-start my own adventure-filled life.

She’s twelve now, and the most amazing person I’ve ever met. We’re in Mexico where I spend my mornings completing the revisions of my novel, and our afternoons exploring together. When I think back to that simple plan I constructed when I was 16, I laugh. How little it was. How much bigger and better this life has become.