I can tell you plenty about this picture of me. Despite my smile, I felt miserable. I loved the pink dress, but the net petticoat scratched my legs as I sat still for much too long. The early proofs show me pouting.

Baby KHCThis shot was taken once the photographer jollied me up with puppets. To my mother’s everlasting relief, I finally smiled, moving past my resentment of wearing itchy clothes.

Here’s something else that was true about me in this picture. I’d already decided what I wanted in life—a nice husband, a sweet daughter, and a published book. Although I had no idea how to make those things happen, I knew they were my destiny.

Decades passed.

There were boyfriends here and there. I taught hundreds of students how to write. I wrote for newspapers and the radio. While I never lost sight of my early plan, things weren’t quite right.

I itched.

Then my life began changing as I learned to get out of my own way. Door after unexpected door opened until all three pieces were mine.

I found the husband in Oklahoma. I found the daughter in China. I found the editor in New York.

When I look at this picture now, I never see the dress. I see my bright eyes, eyes that already knew plenty. My determination was far more important than my anger over starched netting. I had to let everything happen in its own way.

I had to believe.