a place where you can be you...

Follow the Leader


I’ve never been much of a leader.  Then again, I’ve never been much of a follower, either.  I’ve always kind of just done my own thing.  My youngest sister once told me that she always saw me as the dreamer of the family.  Over the years, when friends reminisced about things they did in high school, sometimes when siblings reminisced about adventures in childhood, I remember asking myself, “Where was I?”  I suppose I was somewhere in my own head.


I’ve always held the belief that my brain works differently than most people’s.  Not better or worse, just different.  Like, for instance, I seem to need to know how something works before I can move forward.  I have a need to know the why of things before it makes sense to my brain and it needs to make sense to my brain for me to embrace it.  I’m someone who has a thousand questions about almost anything you may tell me or ask me to do and if you change your mind mid-way, I’ll have a thousand more.


Is it possible for someone like me to change this about myself?  Will I ever be able to just follow the leader?  I have been faced with this situation recently and I have learned two things that make the difference between yes and no.  I have to trust the leader, and I have to know that s/he absolutely knows what they’re talking about.   Even then, it’s a huge struggle for me to bypass knowing the how and why and just dive in.  I usually save that for emergencies.


I would say, as a child playing a game of follow the leader, I was just as likely to follow a cat up a tree as I was to stay in line.  I would be today, too, if I thought I could still climb a tree.  But I wouldn’t attempt tree climbing today unless you chiseled steps into the trunk for my climbing pleasure.  So I’ve been doing my best to follow the leader.


I thought I needed to have it more together, have 20 or 30 posts already written, have a really snazzy website to start this blog.  My leader said, “Do you have a website?”  Me: “Yes.”  Leader: “Do you have a way to collect subscribers email addresses?”  Me: “Yes.”   Leader: “Have you made an ‘About Page’?”  Me: “Yes.”  Leader: “You’re all set then.  Let’s go!”  Me:  “Yikes!”


But my leader absolutely knows what he’s talking about.  I can’t believe I’m still here three months later and still loving it.  I’ve learned to embrace writing something brand new every week.  Someday, I’ll write a few posts ahead.  But for now, I’m happy doing what I’m doing.


Once again, I’m moving far out of my comfort zone.  I have this story I’ve written-actually it’s a fable-about how miserable it is to be someone else’s idea of who you should be and how being yourself is so much more fulfilling and makes you joyful.  My hope is that this book will have the effect on some reader that Trina Paulus’ Hope For the Flowers had on me when I read it.


So this is a heads up…I’m about to shake it up a bit by adding on to what I already have going.  I’m so glad that we are on this journey together.  It’s always more fun when you have great people to travel with!  Thanks for being here with me.



Feel free to share what is outside your comfort zone with us in the comments (or even how you feel about the whole ball of wax!)



About carol

Hi there, I'm Carol. I look for the beauty in everyday people and the everyday world that surrounds me. I'm a writer, a fair photographer, and I'm also a wannabe artist. I wear many other labels, but I try not to let them define me. What about you? I'd love to hear about your story!

15 Replies

  1. Denita

    We must’ve lived similar childhoods. I often have the same “Where was I?” thoughts when people get nostalgic. I’ve always been more of a thinker, immersed in books and thoughts, separating myself from the world. It takes a lot to pull me out of that. Thanks for another great post.

    1. carol

      Denita, We must have, but we must also be similar people. I’ve lived a great life inside my head. I like my little world…people know me there. Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Thank you my friend!

  2. Nancy Johnson

    I remember climbing trees with you – along the back where there was a clump, which formed a border between your yard and Bender’s. I can see you swinging from a high branch, exclaiming that you weighed 75 pounds! I don’t know why I remember that day so vividly, other than I think it was the first time I ever gave much thought to how much I weighed. Anyway, as one who always followed the leader religiously and suffered a lot because of it, I admire your free spirit. I know I’ve told you this, but my mother always said you were the funniest of the Lester kids, and that she thought you got that from your Dad!

    Reading your post immediately brought Priscilla to mind, because she was and still is a lot like that, and I’m happy that I had the opportunity to grow up with you both, because our differences made life more interesting. I didn’t realize it at the time, and in fact was probably very annoyed by it, but in retrospect I wouldn’t have you any other way! Keep up the good work 🙂

    1. carol

      Nancy, I loved playing in those trees back there. The little dirt patch beneath them was our “fort”. I also loved the big pine in the front between the Smiths (later Kellners) and the Seebers. My mother hated me climbing trees because I’d always end up with sap in my hair and she’d have to brush it out! (Of course, she did not go gently into that patch of sap…)

      I don’t remember you telling me about what your mother said, but it’s hilarious! And sweet! I never would have suspected you of being a follower. You always seemed to me to be smart but approachable. Thoughtful with a great sense of humor. You had so many friends (I’m so glad that I was one of them) and you never seemed to have that awkward thing going on that I had.

      Differences do make life more interesting, and after all these years, I’m so glad we are still friends!

    2. carol

      Nancy, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how old we were when I was 75 lbs! I remember turning 100 the summer before 8th grade (I think I was already around 5’6 or 7″ and 3 or 4 months away from turning 13) so maybe we were 10? I guess I had been to the doctor recently, otherwise I have no idea why I would have known that little tidbit of information. What a hoot! We had fun, didn’t we!

      1. Nancy Sheehan Johnson

        Hah! Probably! You were much taller than I was, so I was probably in awe at that point. Those days when getting bigger was a good thing! 😅 It’s funny that over the years, whenever that memory came to mind, I always tried to figure out how old we would have been to weigh 75 pounds. You’re probably right – about 10. And I remember that dirt fort 😊.

        Thanks for your supportive words above. I guess you’re right that in many ways I was never a follower. I remember bossing the younger neighborhood kids around and making them put on plays where I was the star! I think during my 20s and 30s the corporate world did it’s best to crush my spirit. That life was not for me!! It took a long time to figure that out!

        I’m glad you were one of my friends too. We had a lot of fun playing together as kids, and it’s wonderful that we’re still connected. As we know, walnut street was a special place, and we will always feel connected to each other and that place. Pure magic!

        1. carol

          I never had the desire to work in the corporate world. Our scheduler (I worked as a machine operator at Budweiser) once asked me why I never put in for a supervisor job. I remember saying it was because of this book I had read when I was in high school that I knew it wouldn’t suit me. I started describing the book and she knew it. It was Hope for the Flowers which I mentioned in this post. It’s basically about being true to yourself and the story had made a huge impact on me. It was a gift from Marcy Clark when I was 16 or 17 and it’s still one of my favorites!

          Anyway, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this. To give people things to think about that might change how they see things – for the better I hope! I’m sorry you had to learn that one the hard way. Anyway, you were obviously born to be a star!

  3. Lynn

    I love your post, haven’t figured out if I’m a leader or follower, I just kindly go my own way like you but I sure have enjoyed my friends that I’ve met on my way especially you. With all your great talent you have taught me many things I never would have learned, thank you my dear friend for all the help along the way. You have helped me so many times you don’t even realize how I appreciate what you have done for me (especially the good cake). Love you my dear friend

    1. carol

      Lynn, I think you’re a leader but not in the traditional sense. You’re a leader by example. I think you’re one of those people who the rest of us look to when we’re not sure what to do. I’ve watched you over the years guide people in the right direction. You’re a selfless giver and so many people love you (including me!). I’m so glad we’re friends and that you like my cake!

  4. Lou Traylor

    All your childhood memories have reminded me of a few. In 8th grade Current Events class we were having a discussion about women’s lib. One of the boys said we were not equal because we couldn’t beat them in football. I said we may not be able to beat you, but we could last just as long as you guys can! So a bunch of us decided to meet at the park that Saturday for a game. We played for hours. By dinner time we were down to maybe 7 or 8 kids. Just about everyone was wiped out and ready to go home for dinner,except for me. Still wanting to drive my point home, I talked them into just one more game. (The way I saw it, that made me the winner of the debate.) The day ended with me breaking my arm when I got tackled. (The way I saw it, that made me an even bigger winner!) WooHoo, I’m tougher than you!

    While my arm was still in a sling, our family went on a trip to Vermont. We were at Smuggler’s Notch and I was climbing trees and swinging from the branches by my good arm. There were a couple of moms standing near our mother. One of them said to the other, something like, I can’t believe someone let that girl climb trees with a broken arm. Mom said she just sort of quietly backed away and said nothing. I think, Carol, all your tree climbing paved the way for me. I also think mom knew she was fighting a loosing battle trying to keep us out of trees, and off roof tops ;0)

    Which brings me to my follow-the-leader status. I think I was more of a 33 and 1/3 kind of kid; one third leader, one third follower and one third I don’t care what the rest of the world is doing. My leadership was when someone lit a fire under me telling me I couldn’t do something. My follower was when I was unsure of what was expected and couldn’t wrap my brain around what was going on. And my I don’t care was when I wrapped myself in my own little world and worked on my art, or made up my own games and stories.

    I love how this blog takes me back to the past, into the future, and helps me to see things about myself and my life in a new light. Thanks Sis.

    1. carol

      Lou, wow! You know what this reminds me of? Remember that really pretty sling you had that mom made into a halter top? Did you give it to me or did I steal it from you? I loved that fabric. Next question: did mom even know we hung out on the porch roof (it was out the front window of our bedroom)?

      I remember that trip to Vermont-we were unstoppable! Come to think of it, we were unstoppable at home as well. I wish everyone could have a childhood like we had back in the day on Walnut Street!

      I’m glad my little stories are giving you a different perspective. That’s all I can hope for: a little perspective, a little insight, a smile. Love you too!

      1. Lou Traylor

        I remember that fabric, and I loved it too. The halter was one of my prized clothing articles that wasn’t a a hand-me-down (hahaha). Did you end up with that halter? And does that make it the only piece of clothing that went “up” the hand-me-down chain?

        That trip to Vermont, was that the one where we were told not to go up the mountain? The one where we got stuck in that crevice that was the entrance to a racoon den?

        Yeah, we were unstoppable! And Yes, growing up on Walnut St was wonderful. It had a magical power all it’s own.

        1. carol

          Lou, I don’t know if I ended up with that top, but I know I wore it all the time. It may have been the only “hand-me-up” in our house!

          I don’t think you had your cast when we got stuck in the mountain, did you? Not sure if that was that time or not, but it was fun anyway!

  5. jim

    “Don’t follow leaders. Watch your parking meters.” – Dylan

    1. carol

      You don’t need a weather man
      To know which way the wind blows…Dylan, too!