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Play Your Hand

I’m from Newport, Arkansas, a small town in northeast Arkansas. The population of my hometown is a whopping 7,000. Yes, we all know each other. Yes, there’s one high school. Yes, we have stoplights. And YES, it was a fine upbringing. 🙂

Newport’s claim to fame is…well, we don’t really have a claim to fame.

Wait…Did you know Newport has an attenuated connection to Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart? Have you heard of Newport great – George Kell, the Major League Baseball player and hall of famer? Are you aware that Governor Mike Beebe graduated from Newport High School? Maybe you’ve heard of Julius Pruitt, the former Miami Dolphin. (Yep, that’s my cousin, i.e. MY personal claim to fame! LOL!)

Chances are you know very little about Newport. It’s not a place with a ton of opportunity. It’s not a place of much splendor, glitz, and glamour. But what does that mean?


Despite what some may consider a less than ideal hometown or background, I’ve been blessed with large opportunities that far exceed the small town I call home. My journey took me to college then law school. From there, I went on to practice law at one of the largest law firms in the state of Arkansas. (blah blah blah) More importantly to me, though, I’ve met a lot of great people along the way, learned many new things, and have been afforded amazing experiences over the years. It blows my mind that this young girl from the STICKS has been put in a position where someone considers her a role model.

WOW. To say the least, I’m blessed.

In addition to my hometown, I can easily recall some other “less than ideal” decisions and situations from my past. Make no mistake, I’m FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRR (you get the idea?) from perfect. Looking in my rearview mirror of life, I am reminded of where and what I’ve come from and come through. For instance…

That one relationship? EPIC MISTAKE! Those nights on Dickson Street (i.e., bars galore) during law school? *hides face in shame* The harsh words I used with a loved one just LAST WEEK? Yikes!

I’m so glad that my past and even my present don’t define me.

While my journey very likely doesn’t look like yours, the principle remains the same. Where/what you come from does not define you. Maybe you hail from some “less than ideal” circumstances. Broken home? Drug use? Abuse? Criminal history? Poor decisions? Bad relationship? Missed opportunities? Failure? What you see in your rearview mirror does not direct your path and should not hinder your journey. It’s not about where you’ve been, but instead it’s about WHERE YOU’RE GOING. Your journey will undoubtedly have some obstacles. Some of us start the journey with a brand new car, and others begin with a lemon – complete with a bad engine and spare tire. Some might have a smooth, paved, straight highway while others have a mountainous and curvy terrain. Unfortunately, we are not all on equal playing fields. However, that is not the end all, be all.

“It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play your hand.” – Randy Pausch

If you’ve had it rough, I urge you to keep pressing. What do you want out of life? Where do you want to go? What are you willing to do to get there? Everything you have gone through and are going through is preparing you for what you asked for. GO GET IT.

As we travel along our journey, let’s advance. Let’s move forward. We may not overcome our pasts immediately, but we can EVENTUALLY. We can grow. We can evolve. Strive for progress not perfection. Where you come from and what you come from doesn’t matter. Please know that what you did is NOT who you are. You have purpose in spite of your past. There’s a gift in you that this world needs. Don’t allow ANYTHING to withhold that gift that you owe the world. Your cards- the mistakes, your background, your upbringing, etc. – don’t define you. You have everything you need to beat the odds.

Dear friend, play your hand, and WIN!

I am not my past. Despite your circumstances, you are not yours. I will create my future. And so will you. Let’s get to it! I believe in you. BUT…Do you???




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