Casa Dolce Casa (Home Sweet Home)

This is my house on it's 1 year anniversary.
This is my house on it’s 1 year anniversary.

I am sooo happy to be home after a 8 days of a wonderful short vacation to DC with a business trip tacked on. As much as I love to travel, I am always excited to come home to my own space…to my sanctuary…to recharge, relax, and enjoy my surroundings.

About an hour ago, I received an email from my mortgage guy saying “Happy Loan Anniversary!” While I appreciate Lorcan’s thoughtfulness in wishing me a happy loan anniversary, I am not exactly celebrating the fact that I owe the bank so much money for my little nest. But, I am so happy for the reminder to celebrate the wonderful decision I made to buy it.  So forget the money I owe, I am celebrating my house – and all that I have accomplished since getting it!

Since I haven’t posted in a while, I decided this was a very good reason to sit down, turn off all of my distractions and reflect on the year I have spent here. It was pretty crazy in the beginning. Anyone else remember the lightening storm that resulted in the firemen visit, and the A/C, fridge, and internet/cable not working in the first two weeks?? My anxiety about lawn maintenance, robbers and flood insurance? Last summer while exciting was nerve wracking to say the least. I had a lot of doubts – mostly in myself – about my ability to do this on my own – financially, emotionally, physically…

Here I am a whole year later, and all is well. In fact, all is more than well. At the very least, I have maintained the house pretty well as I haven’t killed my lawn, and I have managed all of the basic repairs and the associated bills along with them. I was and still am incredibly lucky and grateful to have the help and support of my friends and family. Otherwise, this would be so much harder – and much less enjoyable! I have a healthy list of people who have pitched in at different times…to move furniture, hang pictures, repair steps, help decorate… you name it, they have done it. Sometimes in exchange for meatballs or wine. Whatever it takes!

But more importantly, I have been making a lot of progress in making my house my home. Slowly but surely, this place is evolving, and every day that I walk in the door, I feel a sense of peace and satisfaction. That is such a powerful feeling…one that I hope never goes away. I reflect about how scared I was a year ago, I now feel joy.

I still don’t know what the future holds – does anyone? But I am a lot more at ease living with questions than I was a year ago. I am more comfortable with being open and vulnerable than I was a year ago. I am much better at enjoying the present than I was a year ago. And I have more love and joy in my life than I did a year ago.

There is a lot more to come – this I know. There will be ups and downs – this I also know. There is more joy – but also more heartache and pain ahead too – that is just how life works.

I can’t say it better than my favorite author Brene Brown:

“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.”
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Happy 1st Anniversary to my “Casa Dolce Casa”!

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An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s Sunday morning, a time I like to reflect and write…and as I start this, I am not quite sure where it’s going to go.

I think I will start with gratitude and faith today – something that I rarely write about.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust

Since I wrote my New Year’s post last month (Onward), I have heard from many friends, family, coworkers, and strangers who shared words of encouragement, and in many cases their own stories of heartache and joy. I am deeply touched that some said my post helped them in some way. That is why I write this blog – and I am so blessed to feel I was able to connect and help someone else.

Thank you to everyone who reads this. Thank you to the people who feel compelled to share your own pains, struggles, and joys with me. It means more to mean that you will ever know.

Last week, I had 150 nuns along with a Mormon temple praying for me, as well as many family and friends (my faith is not bound by my religion…but my religion is part of my faith if that makes any sense). I had a friend light a candle at the Grotto at Notre Dame for me. And I got to visit with my real live guardian angel, Anna Lee Crumpton, yesterday. How lucky am I?

Anna Lee is my friend Tiffany’s mother in law. I met her when Tiffany married her husband John a few years ago. I feel that Anna Lee is a guardian angel because since I met her a few years ago, I instantly felt a spiritual connection to her. Anna Lee always tells me how she prays for me (as she does for many of my friends too). She is certain that God has a plan for me – that my journey will completely make sense to me. I always feel better after spending some time with her, because she is such an inspiration to me and to people who know her.

Anna Lee has been fighting cancer for some time, but you would never know by talking to her. She emanates joy, grace, and peacefulness, which comes directly from her faith. She is one of those people who walks the walk. Tiffany and John brought Anna Lee over to see my new house yesterday, and we shared a bottle of Prosecco and visited for a little while. When we spoke about her most recent treatment, she shared a funny story about how her granddaughter Tristen went to chemo with her…and how they watched their favorite TV show and laughed their way through. Laughing through chemo? Wow – she is something else!

When Anna Lee left my house, we promised to pray for each other like we always do. She asked that when I pray for her, that I express her gratitude since she has everything she needs. Wow. Since yesterday, I have been thinking about that, and am trying to learn from her example.

Anna Lee is in the middle. These are just a few of the people she prays for!
Anna Lee is in the middle. This was taken a year ago. These are just a few of the people she prays for!

My journey continues to be unpredictable and challenging, but today, I feel peaceful because of the support I feel from my “village”, and from the faith I share with them. I don’t have any more answers than I did a few weeks ago, but I feel stronger.

Gratitude is powerful. I know most of us know this…and yet it is so easy to forget or ignore. But it is impossible to ignore with people like Anna Lee in my life. Today I am grateful!

Help!

Help! I can’t seem to get out of my death spiral. If you have been reading a while, you may remember that what I call the death spiral is when I lose it. Like what happened on the 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th phone calls of the day to AT&T yesterday about my cable/internet outage. It was like I was living in the movie Ground Hog Day – caught in an endless cycle of insanity as the same thing kept happening over and over again. My service had been down for days.  It all started during the massive lightning storm last Saturday night.  It was the most wicked lightning storm in my recent memory. Click this hyperlink to see an amazing photo my friends Clay and Susan took of the lightning over Shem Creek.

My sister Jacquie, and my niece and nephew were visiting last weekend. When the storm hit, we quickly moved away from the windows, grabbed the wine, iPads and iPhones and gathered in my bedroom to wait out the storm. You can imagine our alarm when we heard fire trucks arrive, and saw the fireman hooking up their hose to the hydrant in my front yard. Pretty exciting for Day 5 in the new house!

After the storm, we met the firemen (see below), and learned that lightning had struck my neighbor’s house, and they put out a small fire.

Me and the Firemen

Thankfully no one was hurt, and amazingly we still had power, but, alas, no cable or internet.  So we spent the rest of the weekend playing board games and watching movies – no big deal. AT&T restored my service Monday, but everything went out again the next day for some reason. Now things were getting frustrating.

The “inside” technician (Len) who arrived the next day explained that the outage was happening somewhere “outside”, which meant an “outside” technician had to be scheduled.  So the next day, AT&T called to confirm my appointment for an “inside” technician – and had my old address. What?? So after calling several times to be CERTAIN they had the right information…guess what happened. Not only did they still send me an inside tech by mistake – it was Len again! So despite every effort I made to avoid it – the exact same thing happened.

So today, I know I am in the death spiral – at least I can say I am a little self aware. I love my new house, but Week 1 has been full of challenges. The HVAC is only cooling to 79 degrees, and after a battle with my home warranty company – that should be fixed in “3-5 business days”…and a fire across the street…seriously? I know my cable/wireless outage is not the end of the world. Through in a service call on the fridge, and you would start to question your decision too!

I know it could be so much worse. I am TRYING to regain perspective. But I am struggling to stop the spiral. I just COULDN’T resist calling AT&T one more time this morning thinking that I may be able to make a difference – and not surprisingly – I ended up more upset in the process.

Haven’t you been there too? When you think that you can change something – but you can’t, and you just end up banging your head against the wall?

I know I am in a classic example of Stephen Covey’s paradigm of the Circle of Concern/Influence, and I can’t seem to stop the insanity. Also I am forgetting Covey’s 90/10 Principle – and I seem to have completely forgotten that while I can’t control what AT&T is doing (or not doing) – I can control my reaction. With the pressure of so many things (or triggers), I have been blind to the choices in front of me – and I am back to being a pinball in something like the Plinko machine I had as a kid. And it’s not that simple to “chillax” as my nephew would say.

Here is my attempt to re-create the paradigm:

Laurie’s Circle of Concern/Influence

Can’t you feel the negative energy pushing the circle of influence smaller?

What I always loved about Covey was his ability to make his concepts visual. Creating this is a great reminder that I am colossally wasting my energy, and the more I keep at it – the worse it is getting.  

As usual, writing is helping me to clear out the cobwebs in my head. That and Donald, the “outside technician” knocked on my door as I was writing. I almost hugged him upon his arrival. He promised to get things fixed in an hour – and guess what, I am now back online! He was just a little sweaty – so it wasn’t too hard to resist hugging him goodbye.

Tonight I am finally going to chillax and watch the Olympics.

A Monumental Walk

Last Sunday, I had the chance to be a tourist on a glorious day in DC, and I had such a peaceful day walking the National Mall and monuments for hours and hours. Even though I lived in the DC area for over 12 years, I am still in awe of the majestic views and terrific traffic jams the city has to offer.

This blog post will likely be a wandering journey just like my walk was. My only goal for the day last Sunday was to live in the moment, and to wander where my heart led. So – I am going to use the same approach with my blog post this Sunday. We’ll see what happens!

Armed with comfy walking shoes and my iPod, I started my journey at the National Academy of Sciences so that I could visit my old friend, Albert Einstein.

This is one of my favorite memorials of all time, and I visit Al each time I walk the National Mall. I just love how he’s sitting there, reading and pondering in the natural elements. This image conveys living in the moment in the most perfect way. I hung out with my friend Al for a little while, thinking about one of my favorite quotes of his:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

-Albert Einsten

Oh Al, I am insane so much of the time!! There is something hard-wired in me that makes it very difficult for me to give up – to admit defeat. So I keep trying, sometimes doing the same thing again and again…it’s like banging my own head against a wall. Maybe I am like this as result of growing up in a competitive family…maybe it is because I am a hopeful romantic…there are so many possible explanations. All I know is that I tend to be the kind of person who “leaves it all on the field” so to speak. So yes, I can definitely be more than a little insane! But hey, I never claimed to be a scientist like Al, that is for sure.

I continued my journey, passing the Lincoln Memorial, crossing over to the Tidal Basin because I was eager to see the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

My takeaway from my visit with MLK is his message of hope, which makes sense given that I am hard-wired as an optimist. This may play into my tendency towards “insanity,” but I have to say I would rather be an insane optimist than a despairing pessimist any day of the week.

Excited to be away from the crowds, I continued my walk around the Tidal Basin to revisit Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his wife Eleanor.

As I walked through the four sections of the FDR Memorial that represent his four terms, I though about how I spent my first four years after college graduation as a middle school teacher. I had displayed this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt all year long each school year:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

I love this quote because Eleanor reminds us that we have the power – that we are not victims unless we allow ourselves to become so. She was a wise woman.

Onward to visit another old favorite, Thomas Jefferson. TJ had been on my mind recently because I had just served jury duty for the first time just a few days prior. Admittedly, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have been called to serve, but I did feel it was my civic duty…just as I think voting is a privilege and a right that we are crazy not to exercise. So a little reminder of the powerful words of the Constitution were welcome to me.

I did also think about how it took some time for equal to include African Americans and women…and apparently we still have a ways to go to legalize gay marriage. I sincerely hope we are well on our way to real equality.

I covered the rest of my walk with a pause to watch the kites flying by the Washington Monument, to take a quick look at Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown at the American History Museum, and to walk through the WW II Memorial…and then back to my car once again.

At the end of my walk, I was peaceful, tired, and thoughtful. Tonight as I get ready for the week to begin, I once again feel peaceful, tired and thoughtful.

A Letter to My Younger Self

Have you ever wished you could go back in time? To talk to a younger version of yourself to tell yourself what mistakes to avoid making? To share your lessons learned with the one person that matters most – yourself – since you truly know what lies ahead?

I recently picked up a copy of “What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self” where Ellyn Spragins compiled dozens letters written by pretty fabulous ladies like Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, and Trish McEvoy where they each wrote a letter to a younger version of themselves, sharing their love, advice and wisdom. These powerful letters, written by CEOs, fashion designers, political activists, entertainers, Olympic athletes – and a Queen, made me think about how many universal struggles we have as women. We make so many of the same mistakes, share so many of the same vulnerabilities and fears no matter our background, race, age, profession…

Ann Curry tells her 22 year old self that “If you have faith in your real self, you’ll suffer less.” Wise words, Ann. Where were you when I was 22??

Actress Shelley Morrison tells her 30 year old self : “You can’t beat yourself up for what you should have done if you weren’t equipped with the knowledge at the time.” Yes – so true!!

I loved novelist Lisa Scottoline’s letter – because first of all it is a list. Second of all – every item on it is so spot on. Here is one nugget of wisdom from her list: “The little voice you keep ignoring is the only one you should ever listen to.” Right on, Lisa!

I found a lot of inspiration in these letters…but it didn’t really hit home for me until I decided to try to write one for myself. To be honest, I hesitated to post this letter to share it with friends, family and whoever else reads this blog. But in the spirit of risk-taking and being vulnerable, I decided to go for it.

If this inspires you in any way, I really encourage you to do the same for yourself. It is a powerful experience. Share it with someone. Share it with me! Create a dialogue – here or with someone you trust.

A Letter to My Younger Self:

Dear Laurie,

I see you so clearly – so much more clearly that you see yourself in this moment. Stop and notice. Stop and reflect. Stop and take the time to appreciate who you are as the independent, resilient young woman that you already know that you are. Those voices in your head??? You know the ones I am talking about. That is your heart speaking to you. Stop and listen. It’s scary, but the sooner you learn how to do that, the sooner you will build the inner strength to make difficult life choices ahead. Those inner voices are your truth – the core of who you are in your heart. By not listening to them, you are not honoring who you are. Worse yet, the deeper that you bury them now, the harder it will be to hear them later in your life. 

Always remember – your heart is trying to help you – to protect you – to love you. If you don’t know what to do about it, ask for help. I know that isn’t easy for you, but being vulnerable and admitting you don’t have all of the answers is not only normal, but is a good lesson to learn early in life.

One day, you will come to love these values that make you who you are: your capacity to love, your kindness, your hopefulness, your desire to help others. You will also come to find out that those same virtues will be your vices if you lose yourself in your relationships, whether personal or professional. Learn to put yourself first – to love and honor yourself. This is not being selfish. This is being true to yourself. The result will be that you have MORE to give as a healthy, whole, loving, confident person. 

Here’s the thing. Whether or not you figure this out now, you are still going to make mistakes. When this happens – because it is inevitable – forgive yourself. The most loving thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself. Show yourself the same kindness and capacity to love that you do for others. It isn’t easy for you to do – I know this. But learn to let it go. You will have more room in your heart for other things when you do this. Learn from your experiences, and let go of the past. Don’t bury your hurts. Move through them because they are all part of your journey. 

Love,

Laurie

Spring Cleaning

Today, energized by the promise of spring around the corner, I decided to clean out my garage. I fired up Pandora on my MacBook, opened the garage door and I was off to the races.

As I made progress in collapsing boxes and compiling bags of trash, my mind wandered all over the place – maybe in an effort to clean out the cobwebs, re-organize and purge the clutter bouncing around in my head too..

Here are my random thoughts that I feel like sharing:

  1. My Milli Vanilli Pandora station was the perfect choice to give me energy for my project today. When is the last time you heard New Edition, MC Hammer, Marky Mark, George Michael…or DeBarge? “Just come with me and shake your blues right away…You’ll be doing fine once the music starts…” “Girl you know it’s true!” I am certain there are more than a few of you out there that can sing every word to Bust a Move…yes that came on too. Can you believe that Marky Mark is now Mark Wahlberg? Talk about “Not Peaking Too Soon…” Anyway, my point is that if you need to channel some energy, Milli Vanilli will help. And my other point is that even if you happen to make it big early in your life, you can reinvent yourself and have more success than you ever imagined if you work at it!
  2. I really wish I had washed the salt water off of my bike the last time I used it…like 6+ months ago. That wasn’t very smart. I need to take better care of my things.
  3. There is something very energizing about throwing stuff out. Check out what my friend Greg Hart has to say about it in his blog called The Pare Down. Life is more simple with fewer things.
  4. In collapsing dozens of boxes, I quickly was reminded of how many times I have bought stuff from “Wines Til Sold Out”, and Zappos. This will not surprise anyone who knows me. It doesn’t surprise me either…but standing amidst all of the trash…it does make me ponder if I should curb some shopping habits.
  5. My bocce ball set and tennis racquet are really dusty! I need to play more!!
  6. I should recycle more.
  7. I am glad that I now remember where my 2nd fire extinguisher is. That reminds me – today is the day we are supposed to check the batteries in our fire detectors!
  8. 2012 may be the year I actually learn how to use a lawn mower. Or maybe I’ll just leave it right where it is and keep using my lawn guy.
  9. I am going to do a better job of keeping my plants alive this year. And I am going to try to actually grow some grass amidst the weeds in my front lawn.
  10. I am going to restore the dollhouse my Gramps made for me and my sister when we were kids…The dollhouse has been sitting in my various garages for the past 10 years. I am not sure what I will do with it – but it is one of the first ones he ever made, and it will be a family heirloom once it’s restored to its original glory. I know it will be worth the effort.

So all in all, it was a productive Sunday. My garage is clean, boxes are recycled, and my head is in better order!

What Do Your “Pet Peeves” Say About You?

As I sit in the USAirways commuter terminal trying to get home, dealing with an annoying 2 1/2 hour delay, I figured it would be a good time to reflect about my “pet peeves” since I am literally entrenched in multiples of my pet peeves at this very moment.

Generally speaking, I tend to be a pretty patient person. It takes a lot for me to get angry enough to get physically upset about something.  Plenty of things get under my skin, but I try not to lose my cool outwardly. That said, most of my pet peeves can still ruin my day if I let them. I often say I am slow to anger but easily annoyed. I can easily internalize my feelings, build resentments, and do a crappy job of managing my own energy and outlook on life if I get mired down by my pet peeves.

Since I am a fan of making lists, here is a list of my pet peeves in no particular order.

1. Travel delays on my return trips home.This is obviously on my mind at the moment. I tend to be a pretty patient, calm traveler, but when it’s time to go home like tonight, something in me snaps, and I feel like a contestant on the Amazing Race dealing with “Roadblocks” and “U-Turns” in a race against the clock trying to get to my destination…my own bed.

2. Nay-sayers. I HATE when someone tells me that I can’t do something – or that they don’t believe that I can do something – or they won’t let me try. I hate it. Capital H-A-T-E. HATE.

3. Energy Suckers. These are the people who take more than they give back…these are the people who will exhaust me if I am not careful.

4. People who don’t follow through on their commitments. I find it incredibly frustrating when, despite every effort I make being clear in my request, someone agrees to do something and then doesn’t follow through. I would much rather someone say no to me rather than making a promise they can’t keep or have no intention of keeping.

5. Making the same mistake more than once. This is one of my own personal pet peeves about myself. I have little patience with myself if I make the same mistake AGAIN and didn’t “get it” the first time around.

6. Close-mindedness. I have always found it difficult to have a fruitful, thoughtful discussion with someone who refuses to consider another point of view. What is the point in even having a discussion with someone if their mind is already made up? It’s like talking to a brick wall rather than having a true dialogue.

7. Mean people. I don’t want to and feel I don’t need to elaborate on this one.

So – what is the point in thinking about all of the things that drive me crazy? This can be dangerous, right? I could so easily go down the rabbit-hole of complaining and self-pity. I do that often enough. I could keep adding to this list for hours!

But instead, today I am thinking about what my pet peeves mean about me. What do the things that drive me insane say about who I am as a person and what I stand for? This is an interesting way for me to look at those negative forces and flip them on their heads. To turn it around. To see them in a different way, and to get a different kind of energy – or fuel I like to say – out of them.

So here is the list again – seen in my new way.

1. I value my personal space. I like my home, and I like to be home. Though I am a social person, I like having healthy boundaries and time to myself.

2. I believe in possibilities. I thrive when I see options. I value having control and responsibility over my choices.

3. I value reciprocal, healthy relationships, in both my professional and personal life.

4. I value credibility – my own credibility, and credibility in others.

5. My personal growth and development is very important to me. I want to keep learning and moving forward in my journey, and to continue to make meaning out of my experiences.

6. I believe that I don’t always have the answers. I am open to learning new things and new perspectives by staying open-minded.

7. I believe that the “Golden Rule – treating others the way I want to be treated – is the simplest pathway to peace and serenity.

So now I am sitting here in the same noisy terminal. The delay is now 3 1/2 hours – but I feel pretty calm and peaceful compared to how I felt when I began this post. Maybe I can learn something from this experience the next time something or someone pushes my buttons.

What do your pet peeves say about you? What can you learn about yourself by spending a few minutes reflecting about why these things drive you nuts? How can you use a different perspective to change your energy, change your outlook, and see some new options for action?

The Greatest Love of All

Like so many today, I turned on the television this morning to the massive media coverage of Whitney Houston’s untimely death. After watching the Today Show and surfing the net for a bit, I decided to turn off the TV and to ignore the snarky comments about her drug addiction that some were making on Facebook. Instead, I decided to play her music for a while and to reflect on what I was thinking and feeling.

I remembered the fun I had seeing Whitney in concert when I was 16 at the old Charlotte Coliseum back in 1987. It was the first time my parents let me drive to a concert, and I was excited to drive my friends for our big night out to see Whitney sing her big hits “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “The Greatest Love of All.”

I sat and thought about how dramatically her life changed during the years when so many tuned into “Being Bobby Brown”, and how many people were entertained by the drama of her “crazy” life. Watching other people’s pain and chaos on reality television is just something I have never really understood. Addiction is a disease, and while the media will always focus on famous celebrities like Whitney and Amy Winehouse, it is easy for us to forget that so many people struggle with the same issues that they did.

Then, I listened to The Greatest Love of All, and I felt sad that Whitney sounded like she had it all figured out back in 1987, but then struggled with the demons of addiction and a difficult marriage where she clearly never fully recovered. I sat and wondered where the lesson was in this.

Whitney sings that: “The greatest love of all is easy to achieve…Learning to love yourself…It is the greatest love of all.”

It occurred to me that learning to love yourself is not exactly as easy to achieve as it should be. And it is most definitely not easy to maintain in the face of what life throws at us. We all have our own demons and struggles, whether due to addiction, loss, illness, failure…Even if we have it figured out early like Whitney did, many of us struggle to maintain love for ourselves through all of the mistakes we make along they way.

I think that the lesson here is to remember that learning to love yourself truly is the greatest – and probably hardest – love of all. And that we mostly battle ourselves when it comes to achieving it. We carry so many “stories” of not being good enough – and we fight the voice in our heads that someone I know calls “the itty-bitty-shitty committee”. You laughed because maybe you have one too??

I believe that learning to love yourself is how you strengthen yourself to be a better spouse and parent, and employer or employee. Loving yourself is how you serve the community and world around you. I believe that loving yourself will lead to more love, success and happiness in all aspects of your life. Keep at it. It’s worth it.

Self Reliance

Living on my own for the last few years, I have learned to do the best I can to take care of stuff around the house with some help from books like this one: Dare to Repair

I am not the handiest person on the planet. In fact, the exact opposite is true…evidenced recently by my decision to use mounting tape to fix one of my kitchen drawers. Just so you know, I tried to use my Dare to Repair book – and some actual tools…but I resorted to mounting tape and took the easy way out. Who else besides me (and now all of you) will know what is actually holding that drawer together anyway?

My simple approach is to fix the things I can, outsource what I can afford, and ask for help when I need it. Sometimes I take shortcuts if the stakes aren’t too high. No big deal if my kitchen drawer comes apart again – but I would definitely call for help if my dishwasher caught fire (this has actually happened). If you get invited to my house for dinner, you may be asked to help me hang a picture, move some furniture or fix a drawer – but chances are you will be well fed, and I will always have some great red wine for you. And for simple situations when no help is available, I can always grab the mounting tape, duct tape…super glue…whatever works!

When it comes to taking care of me, it’s a little (make that a lot) more complicated. I had some lessons to learn and bad habits to break. Who knew that inner peace is exactly that – peace that comes from within? Sounds easy, right? Not exactly. This is not a job that we can outsource for someone else to fix. We can hire someone to help us – a coach, therapist, or enlist a life partner, mentor or friend to aid, but let me be very clear – the hard work is up each one of us as individuals.

As Emerson said so wisely in his essay Self Reliance,

“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance and Other Essays

Self reliance isn’t just about survival. Self reliance is depending on ourselves to be whole, happy, and authentic from within, rather than relying on others to “complete” us. This finally explains why I always hated the movie Jerry McGuire. Everyone else cried in the theatre when Tom Cruise (Jerry) tells Renee Zellweger (Dorothy): “you complete me.” I, on the other hand, kind of hated Jerry and Dorothy without really understanding why.

Working with my coach over the last few years, I came to realize that I alone am responsible for my well being, which includes my inner peace and happiness in both my personal and professional life. This did not happen overnight. And just because I am more aware doesn’t mean that I have all of the answers.  Did I just admit to the world that I don’t have the answers?? My hands are almost too clenched to even type this – that is how hard it is for me, the former Queen of Problem Solving and Always Right.

This is a continuous journey full of challenges, setbacks, highs and lows. I am practicing asking people to fix my things – but not me. Chris Martin – you can go and fix Gwyneth if you really want to, but it’s my job to fix myself.