I took a big risk twelve years ago. I married my then American boyfriend in the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas . I know. I KNOW. I got married wearing baggy shorts, a tee shirt and a big floppy sun hat and wore a plastic love heart ring I’d bought in some markets in London. (Although to my credit can I say that at least I didn’t get married in the Little White Wedding Chapel, which has a drive-thru. That’s right. A DRIVE-THRU. The motto clearly being: there will come a time in your life when you really, really want to get married but can’t be bothered to get out of the car.)
Did my Las Vegas marriage work out? Nope. We broke up two months later. I KNOW. Did it ruin my life? Not even close. (I ended up writing a novel based on my disastrous decision, which is now in development as a feature film. Go me!)
So the fact is I’ve always been something of a risk taker. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a household where my parents always told me to ‘have a go’. My mum routinely told me, “You’ve got nothing to lose and if things don’t work out you can always come home.” With divorce papers. Ha ha. Hmmm. Anyway …
What I didn’t think about – until I was asked to write this post – is the number of bad risks I have taken and continue to take in my every day life.
- Three times in my younger years I accepted lifts home – late at night – with guys I didn’t know. At all.
- In the past I have sent text messages and answered my mobile phone. While driving.
- At least once I have gotten into a car with someone who was most likely over the legal limit.
- When moving house I have driven a car that was so loaded with ‘stuff’ I could barely see out the rear-view mirror.
- I have stepped out of the room – for less than a minute – while my toddler was in the bath.
- I have spent long periods of time in the sun with no sunscreen on.
- I’ve avoided going to the dentist.
- I’ve regularly driven 5kph over the speed limit.
- For many years (though not since I had Ava) I failed to have my car serviced on an annual basis.
By themselves these ‘risks’ seem fairly harmless. In fact most of us don’t think twice about taking them. That is until things go pear-shaped. Until the worst happens. Until you experience first hand the fact that life can change in a moment.
Last year, my husband Brad and I lost our second daughter Georgie. It took that event to make me realise how vulnerable we all truly are. How life can change in a heartbeat. Literally.
Amongst a desire to get tattoos and shave our heads, Brad and I decided to do two big things after Georgie died: we wrote our wills. And we got life insurance. It was one of those wake-up calls, I guess, that life is wonderful and joyous and thrilling but it also throws you curve balls. And really shitty, horrible moments. And it’s worth safe-guarding against it all as much as you can. Because the bottom line is that like most of you Brad and I are mortgaged up to the eyeballs. If one of us couldn’t bring in an income for six months or more, we’d be financially screwed. And trust me, I learnt the hard way that money is the last thing you want to think about when you’re dealing with a tragedy.
That’s the thing with these little daily risks. We’re not just risking our lives, we’re risking our lifestyle too.
As for all those little risks I’ve been taking. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. But these days the mobile phone sits in the back seat when I drive. When my toddler is in the bath, I stay put. And I’ve stopped getting into cars with strange men … well, not counting my husband!
What risks do you take on a regular basis? What are some of the biggest risks you’ve ever taken in life?
Lifewise is an consumer awareness campaign that aims to encourage Australians to take appropriate steps to protect themselves from the financial hardship that can result from accident, sickness or death.
The campaign features a straight-talking website and ‘how much is enough’ insurance needs calculator so that Australians can educate themselves about the risks they face in life and how they can manage them. You can find more information about the campaign here.
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