When Option A Is Not an Option

I have to admit, I’ve never been a big follower of Sheryl Sandberg. I knew she was the COO of Facebook and she wrote the book “Lean In” but honestly, I hadn’t paid too much more attention to her than that. That was until her husband, David Goldberg, passed away last month. During the last month, Sheryl has shared a number of thoughts about her grieving process in a very raw and honest way.

I consider myself a pretty empathetic person. I am generally pretty good at putting myself in someone’s shoes, so to speak. But grieving for a spouse has always felt elusive to me. I am sure there are a number of reasons for this that aren’t important right now but I definitely feel that this kind of grief exists in my blind spot. Perhaps that is why her honesty has touched me so. It’s providing me with an understanding that I had previously struggled with.

Upon reading Sheryl’s post, something has been stuck in my brain: “I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, ‘Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.’”


How many times in our life has option A not be available and we’ve struggled to acknowledge that and sink into it. I have been thinking about my option A life: get married, have 2 kids, be a stay at home mom while my children were young, do work that truly speaks to me and make meaning for my family and friends. That was my option A as I grew up. That was the goal.

The Option B Life

But option B has looks quite different: twice divorced, no children, career woman who has always been the breadwinner in my home, a career that certainly pays the bills but doesn’t call to my heart. I’d like to think I help make meaning for my friends and family but honestly, that’s for them to answer and that’s ok.

Hmrph. Now that’s very different. What I didn’t realize until I started thinking about this is that there are times when I still mourn for option A. In that mourning for option A, I am keeping myself from kicking the shit out of option B.

Because, you know what? Option B is pretty damn good. Without my divorces, I wouldn’t have grown the ways that I have. I wouldn’t have moved from a place of profound self-loathing to something approaching self-love. I wouldn’t have taken time to find myself and have some of my grandest adventures. I certainly wouldn’t be in a relationship with the man I am currently and happily with.

I have had a career that has taught me a lot about a number of different industries and has taken me around the country. I have met people and seen things that I never would have had option A come to fruition.

I may not have children of my own, but I have a number of amazingly wonderful children in my life and I know that when they tell the stories of their life, my name will come up and that’s a tremendous honor.

But there is a difference between being ok with option B and kicking the shit out of it. And that is where I fear I fall short too often. How does one measure kicking the shit out of something? What would that even look like for me? Does it involve huge sweeping changes or different focus of energy? Does it mean I change careers? Something I have talked about doing for a long time? Does it mean I move somewhere new? Is that new local or across the country? Does it mean changing the people I spend time with? The things I devote energy to? When one begins to think about what it would look like to kick the shit out of something, it brings up a lot of thoughts big and small about how to do that. And that’s where I have been for the last day or so.

There are things I know won’t change – the people I spend my time with. They are solid and I know that is time and energy well spent. Career stuff? That likely needs to make some big shifts. Time and energy for causes? That can likely use a bit of a shift. I know that I all too often tune out of my life and as a result, I am sure that I am missing major opportunities for some shit kicking.

But what I do know is that this is worth examination. And more than that – I think the question I’m going to start asking of myself and others more often is just how I can kick the shit out of something and make it the best that option can be because it is the option that is in front of me. I encourage you to do the same.

Amanda Lipnack

If you truly want to curl my toes, give me a chance to make a difference - for you, for the community, for the world.Few things make me happier than supporting the folks around me to be the best and happiest people they can be.This, of course, winds up taking on a multitude of flavors but generally comes through by being a good friend, a good coach and an excellent paint color picker.

I'm a single lady living in the suburbs of Philadelphia with 2 cats named Leo and Toby (after characters on "The West Wing" - one day I will have the ability to recite the entire series by heart.That's a noble goal, yes?).

I've had a varied career doing a bunch of technical stuff that isn't that interesting to folks who aren't doing it but my real passion is writing.I also get the fabulous pleasure of coaching people from time to time and that brings me amazing joy and energy.

If you want to hang with me there are things you should know:I curse.A lot.I like hoppy beer.A lot.I like big and deep red wines. A lot. I adore my friends.A lot, a lot.I am passionate about politics (or a big geek about them - you choose).I'm an accidental but rather passionate Unitarian and few things make me happier than my dining room table surrounded by people I love.And picking paint colors, let's not forget that. Find me online here.

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