The Dangers of Risk Taking

March 22, 2011

Once upon a time I was a successful prosecutor with a heavy caseload and an immense knowledge of the Laws of Evidence.  In my leisure time, between preliminary hearings and closing arguments, I devoured shelter magazines and dabbled in remodeling on the side because deep down inside, I loved interior design.  Then I got pregnant, and left my job at the District Attorney’s office.  Then I had two babies.  Then I opened a law practice.  Then I started a blog ~ a blog about what I love.  Then I closed my law practice and took a leap of faith. 

I did something brave, something dangerous, something very risky.  I changed course, and I changed careers.  I realized that I truly do love home improvement, great design, interior decorating, and DIY projects.  It’s those subjects that keep me awake at night, not memorizing the exceptions to the hearsay rule.  

she listened kobi yamadavia


I love the thrill of taking on a new venture and teaching myself something new.  There is always apprehension and fear, but in the last few years, I’ve learned that challenging myself is the definition of taking a risk, and it is absolutely thrilling.  It’s why I experiment with power tools and paint, with recipes and gardening, and then write all about it.  With the risk comes the thrill.  It’s dangerous, and it’s addicting.


Whenever I get the chance, I love to scour Craigslist and thrift stores, looking for something that speaks to me.  Take this vintage cocktail table I found many months ago in the dusty corner of the Goodwill.   There are many of you looking at this table and thinking “Crikey, that’s hideous!  I’d never look twice at that gilded beast!” 

table before


table detail


And then there are a few of you who think like me.  You see something gorgeous in that frame, the hidden potential of a piece that needs just a little TLC. 

gold leaf coffee table


A $5 dollar investment in some ‘Liquid Leaf’ and 20 minutes of my time led to a refurbished piece.  One that glistens in the sunlight, and stands a little prouder if you ask me.   

detail after


This gold leaf table makes zero sense in my home.  It’s glass, it’s gilded, it’s impractical and ostentatious, and I have absolutely no place to put it.  I plan to sell it someday, if I can ever bring myself to part with it. 

I really don’t care that most people would hate it, I love it.  I saw something there, and I took a risk.  I paid $20 dollars to take it home with me, not knowing what I would ever do with it, or if I could ever really make it work in my home. 

Taking a risk means you’re not going to please everyone.  (Oh, the horror!)  It means climbing out a limb and saying ‘I love this thing/design/idea/person’ even when it makes no sense to others around you.  Even when those people open their opinionated mouths to criticize you. 

Taking risks is courageous and dangerous.  And it should be celebrated.  

Beware the dangers of risk taking!

Strange things might happen to you. 

You might stand out from the crowd. 

You might discover hidden talents.

You might venture into the unknown by trying something new. 

Then you will learn something new.  

You might fail, but true failure is never risking anything at all.

Then surely you’ll discover something about yourself you never knew.

Then you’ll be proud of yourself.

You’ll be more interesting.

You’ll have a story to tell.

And that alone is amazing.

Taking a risk usually means your heart is talking to you, saying “Do it.”  But then your head quickly answers back “Don’t.”   Consider that a good risk is when your heart says “Go for it!” and your head says “Are you sure?”.   That’s OK.  That’s where you want to be.  The best kind of risk involves both an equal amount of sense and passion.  Those are the kinds of risks worth taking time and again.

Today, I encourage you to go forth and live dangerously!  Do something that completely scares you.  Be courageous.  Go against the trend.  Bet on yourself.  It will guarantee one thing for sure, you’ll have less regrets when you look back on your life.  Paint your walls that bold color.  Sell your house.  Write that novel.  Change jobs.  Teach yourself something new.  Stretch out of your comfort zone, take a leap of faith, believe in yourself. 

picasso quote

Accept that you might be wrong, but once you determine that the risk is worth the education you’ll receive in the process, then the repercussions of failure are minimized. 

Remember, the risk takers are the ones who are willing to bet on themselves.  When will you start betting on you?  Risk takers are not necessarily the most talented, but the ones who are willing to put themselves out there, and work the hardest.

Beware the dangers of risk taking!  

You just might lead a more interesting life. 

swirl snip

Visit my friend Nester today to see how others are taking risks in their lives too.



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149 Responses to “The Dangers of Risk Taking”

  1. Sue says:

    I loved reading this. You really did give up quite a bit to follow your heart and I’m so glad for you that it is paying off. Someone said to me recently, “I would never spend the time you do writing for that blog unless I was getting paid a lot of money to do so”. She wasn’t the first person who either didn’t understand what a blog is…or why I would want to write one. When I try to describe my blog to some people, they look at me as if I must have way too much time on my hands if I am willing to spend it setting tables or taking pictures while I cook. Why is it so hard these days for people to understand that some things you do just make you happy, make you feel good. If there happens to be a pay day (or maybe a few sponsored items to review) that’s the bonus.

  2. Leaving my day job (my dream job, too), I completely understand the risk you took. I’m so thrilled to see how well you’ve done! Thanks for sharing your advice, but more importantly your heart!

  3. Thank you for this. So inspiring and wonderful to hear where you came from. Really adore your blog and vision.

  4. Samantha K. says:

    Wow! As I read this I was thinking, “Is she talking to me???” Out of the blue today I was offered a new job with my current employer. All afternoon I have been trying to weigh the pros and cons. I think I am just scared of change and stepping out of my comfort zone. I really just need to go for it! Thanks for writing this, it completely hit home for me!

  5. Melissa says:

    Thank you! This post is just what I needed to hear… I have some exciting plans in the works and can’t wait to see how following my heart turns out! Your post is true inspiration :)

  6. Loved this post so much it inspired my post today, where I urged some more people to come and look at your blog. I’m at a major crossroads — and this came at such a perfect time.

    Here’s what I wrote today

    Thanks so much for your honesty.
    Cat @ BudgetBlonde

  7. Dusti says:

    I got a similar coffee table off Craigslist for $15. Never thought to add liquid gold leaf, but I am going to now that I saw your transformation! Our Rocklin Goodwill never carries anything good, so I stopped going. I believe you have said that your in Sacramento, right? You probably have a better Goodwill near you!

  8. What an inspiring post. Thank you! I’m actually working on a project right now that intimidates me–but that’s when you know you’re growing right?

    Warmly, Michelle

  9. Leigh Ann says:

    I just love reading your blog every day! Thank you for your encouraging words!

    I ACTUALLY HAVE THE SAME TABLE, which I also paid $20 for (seems to be the going rate… ha ha ha) off Craigslist. I wanted a bit of metallic and glass for my living room, and was looking for something smaller and square to fit my space. I was prepared to spend much more, but this little number was PERFECT (in potential at least). My quick fix was to sand the damaged brass plating, and spray paint it metallic gold, and that worked well. However, the paint is chipping. I was just about to sand it again and prime it with car primer, then repaint it gold (based on a tip from Emily Henderson of HGTV). However… I love your gold leaf idea! Can you give me more “how-to” info? Did you do anything to prep it first? Did you put a coat of poly over the gold leaf?


  10. CentsationalGirl says:

    Thanks everyone!

    Hey Leigh Ann, So glad to read someone else loves it too! The Liquid Leaf is an oil based product. I cleaned mine really well but had no chipping so I went straight to the paint. I would lightly sand away anywhere where your gold is chipping then use either real gold leaf which is slightly more expensive and tedius but will give you that crackled look, or the Liquid Leaf, dabbed on lightly (almost like sponging) with a dry brush for a mottled look, or thicker if you want a smooth even finish.

    I didn’t use a protectant, but you might wish to, especiallly if yours will get handled or touched a lot.


  11. Lucy says:

    what a wonderful post! As a relatively new blogger, I have recently had some people unsubscribe from my blog and on my FB page. My normal motto of “be myself” went out the window and I had hurt feelings thinking “they don’t like me” and worrying about the ideas I was posting, etc..
    Reading this brought me back to reality and knowing that I do what I do because I love it, it makes me happy and fulfilled and I’m not doing it for anyone else….and that’s what matters!

  12. Jen says:

    You said this so beautifully. Thank you for the encouragement…

    Be blessed fellow gal with a spray paint can & a heart for others!

  13. Amy says:

    Taking a risk certainly paid off for you, in spades! Thanks for this post. It reminds me that adventure is what being alive is all about! :)

  14. Rachel says:

    After working in the corporate world for more than 10 years, I decided to quit my job to be a full time mom and work online. Anything is possible if you were hard enough at it. I now own a successful web site that helps support our family, and I am not missing a moment in the lives of my three precious little boys! It was a huge risk to take, but even with all the ups and downs it is soooo worth it. I have been home now for almost 6 years. I would like to add, however, that raising my boys is 10x harder than my full time job was, LOL, but much more fulfilling.

  15. Trish says:

    SO inspiring! I just started to follow your blog and I am addicted!!! You have motivated me beyond belief. I am a design student taking a semester off because I am a new mom but you have given me a whole new outlook on design for my own home. I have a new apprecitaiton for bloggers :) thank you for writing and sharing your ideas. I truely appreciate it!!

  16. Nicole says:

    I find your description of yourself and how life led you to where you are today very familiar. I know I am unique and it is wonderful that folks like us can identify with one another. I am soon going to be a medical practitioner. That feeds one side of my soul but my creative side yearns for something different. Cooking, creating, and transforming bring an undescribable joy to my spirit. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Walki says:

    There’s something about your blog that keeps me coming to it everyday! I check it like I check my email, facebook and bank account…addicting and inspiring!! Thanks!

  18. Jill says:

    Excellent, excellent post. Risk-taking=zero regrets…a wonderful way to live life.

  19. Diana says:

    Today I took a risk. It wasn’t in home decor-but it was standing up for myself against my abusive former spouse for the first time in my life. You may not realize how your words could have transpired into something more the way that it did for me, but I am grateful for them and the empowerment they lent me!

  20. Debra says:

    I can’t tell you how much this post speaks to me. As long as we’re talking about criminal law careers, I work for the Public Defenders Office as a paralegal and was told last week that another round of layoffs are coming (I survived the first round because of my seniority), but this round might be it for me. I love criminal law… but there has always been a hole in my heart because I’m not at home taking care of my family everyday, and that’s my first love. I spend my breaks and lunch hours reading blogs like yours, and blogs of others like Edie who mixes family, design and homeschooling, and my heart aches for it. So, I may not be taking the risk voluntarily, but change is coming for me. Thank you for reminding me that changing course, changing careers, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You’re amazing Kate.


  21. Debra says:

    I can’t tell you how much this post speaks to me. As long as we’re talking about criminal law careers, I work for the Public Defenders Office as a paralegal and was told last week that another round of layoffs are coming (I survived the first round because of my seniority), but this round might be it for me. I love criminal law… but there has always been a hole in my heart because I’m not at home taking care of my family everyday, and that’s my first love. I spend my breaks and lunch hours reading blogs like yours, and blogs of others like Edie who mixes faith, family, design and homeschooling, and my heart aches for it. So, I may not be taking the risk voluntarily, but change is coming for me. Thank you for reminding me that changing course, changing careers, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You’re amazing Kate.


  22. Debra says:

    Sorry about the double post!


  23. Ashley says:

    you. are. my. favoritest. person. ;)

    LOVE the table. once upon a time, when I worked for a boring graphic design firm, who only gave me crap jobs, I got into trouble for forgetting about a job I had in the wings, and planning out my dining room, instead. OOPS.

  24. Very elegant. You are not only a risk taker, you have good vision.

  25. Trina says:

    Wonderful post. I’ve been trying to find some furniture to fix up. I did redo a small bookcase. It was fun spray painting it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  26. Kate says:

    Wow! You wrote EXACTLY what I have been trying to nut out for the past year. I worked for 10 years in IP Law, left to have a baby and have now reached a point where I know I never want work in that field again and want to do what I love – design and making things with my hands. Your words have given me inspiration and encouragement. I stumbled upon your blog by chance and love it. Thank you all the way from Sydney, Australia! Kate x

  27. This post could not have arrived at a better time! I started blogging recently, opened a store last month and was just offered a full time position by a co. I used to work for back before I was a stay at home mom!
    I know I love where I am right now, but I need to look at all options.
    Thanks for the inspiration and confirmation that I am on the right path!

  28. nightowl_72 says:

    Best BlogPost EVER.

  29. Elizabeth Hunt says:

    Beautiful post. You are my idol.

  30. Paige says:

    I love this, this is why your allowed into my inbox everyday.
    This is post is whyI love my bloggy sorority!
    A loyal fan, a new blogger, and a sista. you rock & inspire me :-)

  31. Crystal says:

    What an inspiring post! One of my favorite quotes is by Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I love your blog. You inspire me. So glad you took that risk.

  32. Maria Killam says:

    I love the way you turned that coffee table into this story!! So awesome Kate, just like your table!

  33. Janny A. says:

    Dear Kate,
    Thanks so much for this wonderful post!!! I am turning 39 in a couple of weeks, have never taken exercise seriously before so I recently decided to join a spinning class (hardest thing I’ve ever done!) and my husband who used to be a cross country runner has started to train me. I can feel my body getting stronger as the days go by and it’s the most empowerful thing I’ve ever experienced!! I’m taking a risk and I’m loving it!!

  34. Karen P says:

    Thank you so much for this post. As so many others have commented, it came at the perfect time for me as I just made an important and exciting decision to buy a vacation house It is risky but it has so much potential. I finally feel less nervous about it.

  35. Just a note to say “Thank You” for your inspiration. Truly a deep and caring post that has touched a lot of heart strings. I’m so proud of Debbie for standing up to the bully! You have surely made a difference in her life today! Your courage shines on us all.
    Good luck to Debbie, may she have the courage to continue this new path!

  36. Joanne says:

    Thank you. I am also in the process of changing career and I feel I know exactly what you say! I love this inspiring post :-)

  37. Jen says:

    Thank you so much for your story. Just like you, I secretely live in a design world, outside of my corporate banking job. It consumes my outside life. Your refreshing account of how you were able to successfully transform your life, serves as my inspiration to begin taking those same steps. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!!! I don’t think you will ever know how much of an impact you have had on me by sharing this…

    Conspiring to deisgn,

  38. DeeDee says:

    What a lovely post Kate! Thank you!

    P.S. Just this past Friday I finally got the house I was trying to buy and over the weekend my BF and I stripped every ceiling in the house of its NASTY popcorn covering and replaced it with a nice new “knock down texture” look! Talk about taking a risk! Neither one of us had any inkling of what we were doing, but it looks wonderful and I’m proud we took that risk! :)

  39. Mary says:

    love the picasso quote! reminds me of another quote of his that i love, “if you know exactly what you are going to do, why bother doing it?”

  40. Cate says:

    Thank you so much Kate for that inspiring post. It has meant a lot to me and maybe just maybe….. I might take that risk.

  41. Thanks for being so open and honest. I found this very inspiring and encouraging. And lovely table by the way!

  42. what a fabulous post, i really needed it today. thank you for writing it!

  43. Vicki says:

    The timing of this post was perfect! I took a big risk 7 years ago when I left my advertising career to start a floral and event design company. I could completely relate to what you wrote about heart v. head. And, oh, were there naysayers! I found myself nodding all the way through your post and then – the coup de gras – you posted one of my top quotes! My mantra. Thank you, Mr. Picasso, for summing up it up for me, and thank you, Kate, for reminding me. As I take my next big leap into blogging, I look to you as a continued source of inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Oh, and the table is great!

  44. Cara says:

    I love this post! I’m also an attorney that had my own practice, then quit to stay home when my son was born. I’ve got some big new dreams for my life, and sometimes that can be a little scary. Thanks for your words of encouragement about taking risks!

  45. Great post! Very well said.

  46. Well said, Kate! And I’m so glad that you took that leap…you have become part of my every day! your projects and attitude are inspiring!

  47. Fani (Corfu, Greece) says:

    I have been following your blog for sometime now, dreaming that one day I, too, will be able to create and do things I love, but this time I felt I HAD to leave a comment! This post did something to me. It spoke right to me! I wish I’ll be able to believe in me one day and remember that I was not allways useless and that other people also believed in my potential. Anyway, what i really wanted to say is THANK YOU for making me dream and maybe I’ll push myself into some risk taking in the foreseeable future! …Strange what an unknown person on the other side of the world can do to you! PLEASE keep up the good work (btw it’s great what you do with the ALMA project, too!) and allways enjoy the fruits of your creations! :)

  48. CentsationalGirl says:

    Thank you so much Fani!

  49. Danielle says:

    Fantastic table. Thanks for the tip on the liquid gold leaf. I’ll keep my eyes open for gold now at the Good Will! x

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