If wishes were…

Last week, Kathy Palm wrote a blog titled Thirteen Wishes, in which she talked about being thirteen years old and how what she wished for then matched (or didn’t match) her life now. I thought it was a fun little exercise, so for this lazy Labor Day blog, I decided to copy her. (Coming up with original ideas is not what Labor Day is for.)


So. Thirteen-year-old Rena. I turned 13 in early 1997. It was the year Princess Diana died, and the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide rocked the country. Mike Tyson tried to eat Evander Holyfield ear-first, and Tiger Woods became the youngest golfer to win the Masters. Dolly the sheep was cloned, and the Hale-Bopp comet had its closest approach to Earth.

Not to be confused with Mm-Bop, also popular around this time.

Not to be confused with Mm-Bop, also popular around this time.

All this went on around newly teenaged Rena, and while I remember coverage from all, clearly none of those events were at the center of my sphere. I was busy watching Titanic repeatedly in the theater (I’ll never let go!) and trying my best to reach Mariah’s highest notes while listening to my very first Discman. The first Harry Potter was also released, though I wouldn’t fall into the magic until book 2, but the summer of 1997 was spent hauling books between the library and home, almost daily, devouring the Sweet Valley series and more.


I was finishing up 7th grade and starting 8th grade at what was then Rockwell City/Lytton middle school. *shudder* Those…were not great times. Seventh grade especially. But I found small bits of happiness. Many of them in daydreams. Wishes. Imagining what my future might look like. Here are just a few of my 13 year old wishes.

  1. Become a famous pop star. a la Mariah Carey.
  2. Travel the world, seeking adventure.
  3. Be a baby doctor.
  4. Marry someone who loves me for me, and start a family.


Well, I’m no pop star. My cousin Dana and I used to make big plans about what our lives would be like when she was a famous actress and I was a famous pop star. We would fly in our private jets to see each other and introduce each other to all our FABULOUS friends. I couldn’t imagine why anyone WOULDN’T want to be famous. Heh. At 31 (hey, that’s like opposite 13 I just noticed!), my vocals stick to church and the shower mostly. And I’m 100% find with that.

singing in the shower

When I was in elementary school and had lived in Minnesota and New York and traveled to Colorado and Pennsylvania, I was “worldly.” Unfortunately, I haven’t gone much beyond that. I did go on a cruise a few years back. Let’s just say the world travel wish is still in progress 😉

world travel

I always thought if being a pop star didn’t work out, I wanted to be a doctor who got to work with babies. When I realized that the nurses were really the ones who got to take care of the babies, I learned about “obstetrical nursing” and that was my new goal. I’m not sure at what point things really shifted, but instead of nursing I went into psychology and ended up with a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I thought marital therapy was fascinating, so of course now I work with kids. You might say my interests are in constant flux. I don’t regret my decision though. I don’t think 13-year-old Rena would blame me either.

Little Children Hands doing Fingerpainting

The one thing I think 13-year-old Rena would be upset about if she could have seen 31 year old Rena is the fact that I am still single. Little Rena always believed in fairy tales and wanted to be Cinderella. Adult Rena has those same feelings, but as far as getting married young…it wouldn’t have been good for me. I can look back now and say that with absolute conviction. If a guy had proposed when I was in my early 20s, I would have said yes, and I would have changed everything about myself in order to please him. The good news is that I DID find someone who loves me for me. ME. And I DO have a ginormous family. A work family, a church family, so many close friends who fill whatever gaps there may be. And I’ve done more on my own than I would have had I given myself up before I knew who I truly was.


OKAY that got deeper than planned. Suffice to say, even if things didn’t turn out (at all) as 13-year-old Rena wished they would have, they did turn out as they were meant to. I was 13 eighteen years ago. I can’t wait to see where I am eighteen years from now. My guess? Someplace I never expected 🙂

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2 Responses to If wishes were…

  1. Jess Witkins says:

    First off, I forgot about Dolly the cloned sheep! Whatever happened to her? Is SHE a famous pop star now?

    And second, kudos to you for being true to yourself and claiming self-love! It takes many people their whole lives or more to get to that point. And I know we go in cycles of feeling like we’re on top and feeling like things are out of control, so really we need to enjoy the moments where we feel that confidence and happiness in our own lives. Enjoy it, sista!

    • Rena says:

      It’s definitely a cycle! There are days when the self-love definitely isn’t there. That’s where that network of friends and family comes in 🙂

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