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THETURTLEBEAR
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Winning the MegaMillions Jackpot

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Maryland, we have two of the "big" lottery games - PowerBall and MegaMillions. The PowerBall is a more recent addition; for many years Marylanders could only play MegaMillions. It costs a buck. I am not a gambler by nature and I don't play the lottery regularly. But I will admit that if I'm at the gas station, I'll occasionally buy a ticket. I probably spend about $5 a month.

Even though I'd buy a ticket, I never bought a ticket because I expected to win. That would be sort of ridiculous because the odds are a lot more likely to be hit by lightening multiple times than to win a MegaMillions jackpot. I figured that if I plopped down a dollar, I was paying for a daydream. It was harmless and fun (and had no calories). Spending a dollar meant that if I had a little down time, I could think about "what I would do if I won the lottery."

Since I didn't believe I'd ever win, I would never check my tickets, except maybe every few months. I'd look in the pocket of my wallet, see if any lottery tickets were there (since there was no rhyme nor reason to when or how often I'd buy one), and check the numbers. But I actually dreaded checking the numbers because that took away all the fun. I always understood that actually checking the tickets would take me on a non-stop flight to reality. But that dollar, unchecked, gave me the right to my occasional daydream.

Many people are embarrassed to say that they'd ever buy a lottery ticket. But let's face it, anyone who buys one has a few moments of "What would I do if...?" I have no idea if there are "typical" lottery winner actions, but I imagine many people would plan to quit their jobs. I noodled that one around a bit over the years, but often thought I'd keep working because my job has mostly been fulfilling during my career. But in the last few years, I realized that I would indeed quit my job if I ever won the lottery. Why the change of heart? One simple reason. It wasn't the noble thoughts of philanthropy, financial aid for children (or parents), or luxury trips, homes, and cars that pinged my interest. Nope. I knew that if I ever won the lottery and quit my job, I would be thin. That's all I needed. You see, I'd be able to concentrate on eating healthy and I could go to the gym regularly and have lots of time to walk and hike. I am NOT joking! That was really my big lottery dream! I knew that if I won MegaMillions I would be thin and healthy, and that was one of the biggest motivators to those occasional lottery ticket purchases.

Well slap my face and call me Zsa Zsa, because apparently I haven't been checking my old lottery tickets. I must have won MegaMillions!!! I just didn't realize it. But it MUST be true: I've spent the last fifteen months eating healthy, the last twelve months making full use of a gym membership, walking and hiking, and since late Fall I have enjoyed all the perks of being fit at a normal BMI and loving it.

So much of my life was being lived in a future that was within my power to create, but I let those years be stolen from me. I spent all my time anticipating that those possibilities were "some day," instead of drawing a line in the sand and stepping over it with the first step to the rest of my life. I finally took that step on January 8, 2011 - and joined Sparkpeople - and as much as I could happily find ways to spend a jackpot full of dollars, the fulfillment I've found in this "personal jackpot" is one of the best things I've experienced in my life.

I still buy one of those silly tickets once in a while - after all, I could use some more new clothes! But Sparkpeople helped me realize that I could turn my daydreams into reality with the life I already had.

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