Recycle Your Soul

It was on a beautiful spring day, and I was visiting a mentor of mine who was based in a suburb of Chicago at the time.  Before getting ready to join him and his team at his offices, I left my hotel room around 6:30 AM for my morning brisk walk.  I grabbed a Running Map from the hotel concierge, and started out on my hour-long routine.  I followed the path that crossed a large field, which led beside a peaceful lake and merged into a nice Midwestern subdivision.

As I exited the field and started down the sidewalk, there was a Waste Management truck puttering down the street.  It buzzed ahead to the house in front of me, and the men proceeded to get off the truck, empty the cans, and then rumble on down the street.  As they would stop to collect several cans, my quick pace would put me ahead of them.  After collecting their garbage and getting back on the truck, they would rumble past me again until reaching their destination at the next set of cans.  As many trash collectors do, they didn’t place the cans back in their place, but rather tossed them back on the driveway, sidewalk, or grass.

This routine continued for a good 10-12 blocks.  They would rumble by… I would briskly pass them. They would collect the trash, and continue to race past me again.  My morning walk had become rather tedious, and I became slightly irritated as these gentlemen were drastically ruining my peaceful morning walk.

As I neared the end of the street, I noticed it was a T-section, and I was ecstatic at the thought that I could finally have some peace on my walk.  As I neared the end of the street, the truck had fallen several houses behind my pace.  I quickly reviewed the landscape, and based on the amount of cans on the street and their positioning, I anticipated they would make a left-hand turn at the sign; therefore, I made the wise decision to turn right on the street.  As I picked up my pace and started enjoying the peacefulness, I heard the squealing of the brakes behind me as the truck stopped at the stop sign.  I heard the engine rev as they proceeded to turn onto the current street, and I was glad to hear the rumbling was moving away.  But wait, it wasn’t.  I turned in disbelief as the truck came zooming past me to stop three houses in front of my current location.

The men jumped off the truck, hurriedly dumped the contents of two cans into the truck, threw them back on the drive, and sped off in a drastic hurry.  As they sped off, the rumbling of the truck made a vibration in its wake, and the two cans rolled out into the street.

I quickly jogged to the cans before they could roll further into the street, potentially causing a traffic accident.  As I was placing the cans back on the driveway, I noticed a symbol I had seen so many times in the past:

I realized at that moment that these men were not collecting trash, but rather they were collecting recycled products from the neighborhood.

After placing the cans carefully back in the driveway, I stood looking at that symbol, and my deep inner voice said, “Recycle Your Soul.”  It blew me away!

As I continued on my morning walk, I kept thinking about my adventure with the recycling truck.  When I was a child, society never recycled.  Why do we now?  Instead of throwing everything in a large garbage can as we did growing up, we carefully place items in recycle bins, even though it is easier to open the lid of the trashcan and just “throw ‘er in”.

We don’t recycle for convenience, but rather for preservation.  Most of us take the extra effort in our day to put items in their correct recycle bins.  We do it to protect and preserve our world for our generation and generations to come.

We recycle anything: cans, paper, plastic, metal, batteries, bottles, tires, ink cartridges, and on and on.  However, why don’t we spend time recycling our souls?

Do you know the dictionary definition of the word recycle?  The primary definition is: To treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse.  Wow… “suitable for reuse.”

Is your soul suitable for use? Is it ready to be involved in healthy relationships, whether personal or professional?  Do you have peace with where you are and where you are going?

One thing I have learned in my life is that it is okay to get off the treadmill of life. When things are going a little crazy, relationships are strained, work is chaotic, or the pace is just too fast, learn to take a break and RECYCLE YOUR SOUL.  That is what I have been doing the past year… Recycling my own soul. I read up on how to Feng Shui your life, and I started my process last summer.  It has been EXHILERATING.  Last summer, I ended a toxic relationship that was stealing all my happiness.  I moved my home.  I gave away anything that reminded me of someone or something that was not a positive thought, no matter what the cost.  I distanced myself from negative people, and  I stopped working for some people that were stealing my energy. Most importantly, I increased my yoga and meditation practice.  Every day, I wake up energetic, fulfilled, and full of life.


I encourage all of us to Recycle Our Souls when needed.  Find refuge somewhere, whether it is at home, relaxing at a spa, camping in the woods, sitting on a beach, skiing on a mountain, walking in a park, or perhaps just sitting in a quiet corner of your bedroom.  Sit quietly and mediate.  Really examine how you feel.  Start a journal to record these feelings.  Take a page per day.  Draw a line down the middle, and on the left, put all the Positive ways you feel- physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.  It can be full sentences or single words such as energized, happy, peaceful, healthy, etc. Then in the second column, put the negative ways you feel, such as lonely, overweight, sad, stressed, hungry, etc.  Now, with a different color ink and next to each negative, write down one way to reverse the negative item.  For example, if you put overweight, then you might put… “walk 2 miles at lunch tomorrow”.

As your journal grows and grows, you should be shifting your energy pattern.  I call these daily exercises my “Temperature Checks”!  By doing them daily, you find how you are feeling on an ongoing basis, and you are conditioning yourself to avoid bad influences in your life. Daily practice helps you to work toward a goal that, instead of taking it as a “whole piece”, you are taking it step by step.

In order to preserve and protect the future of you, your loved ones, your business associates, and others surrounding you, make sure your soul is usable.  Make sure it is free from garbage, dents, dirt, or unwanted material.

Make sure that your soul is “suitable for reuse!”


Laurie Calzada

-Author, Speaker and Life Coach-

A Mother’s Dream

The following article was written in the Spring of 2009.  I want to share this with you on this Mother’s Day.

Dreams come in different packages… different sizes… at different costs… and most importantly at the most unexpected times.

I have three lifelong dreams, of which one is swimming with the Dolphins in the open sea. Being a 41 year old single Mother, my dream was about to come true as my beautiful children and I were about to embark on a Mexican adventure to go swim with the Dolphins over Mother’s Day week.

The trip had been planned for almost eight months, and was a gift from an unexpected source. For the past months my little bambinos had been counting down the days, crossing out every day on the calendar, waiting for another Mommy adventure.

Then the dreaded call came. Just 72 hours before we were to commence on our journey, I was attending a conference, and my cell phone rang. I answered, only to hear a familiar female voice say, “Laurie, the swine flu scare has reached epidemic proportions, and they are now encouraging Americans to avoid travelling to Mexico.”

My heart was crushed. How could I look into the eyes of my 8 and 9 year old darlings and tell them that they were not going to swim with the Dolphins? As my heart was sinking deeper and deeper, I was put on speaker phone and my VP of Operations along with the Director of one of my business units began both bombarding me on the other end of the line with alternative ideas and suggestions. Just coming out of two of the most stressful and turbulent years of my life, the confusion on the phone conversation became too much to bear. I was standing in the lobby of one of the nicest hotels in St. Louis amongst fellow executives, and tears began streaming down my cheeks. I abruptly announced, “I gotta go… I’ll call you later.”

I gathered my things and headed out the side door of the hotel to regroup and catch some fresh air. I knew that I had to pull it together quickly as I was to be in a session in one hour to assist one of the presenters. As I exited, I plopped down on a concrete wall, took a deep breath and tried to distract my thoughts by checking my email on my cell phone.

Suddenly I heard a male voice state, “It’s turned out to be a nice day.” As I looked 8 feet to my left there was an African American gentleman, approximately 60 years of age with a big toothy grin. He was dressed in blue collar clothing, and was smoking the butt of a cigarette.

I kindly replied, “It is a beautiful spring day.” Assuming he worked for the hotel, I inquired, “Are you enjoying your break?”

“Oh, I don’t work for the hotel. I just stopped to smoke out of this ashtray.”

Little did this gentleman know, I am an avid non-smoker. So, I smiled and stated, “Well, enjoy that smoke, but you should make it your last!” I chuckled and shot him a big smile.

With his big toothy grin, he looked at me with those deep chocolate brown eyes, gave his huge grin and said, “Yes, I should stop Maam. By the way, my name is Richard. I am smoking the butts out of the tray which isn’t very good, but I don’t have any cigarettes.”

With a nod of my head, I replied, “Nice to meet you Richard.”

We sat in silence a few more minutes, and I checked the missed calls on my phone. Then Richard broke the silence by stating, “Well, I have to thank you Maam.”

Surprised by his statement, I asked, “What do you need to thank me for Richard?”

“Just for talking to me. I have been sitting out here an hour or so, and no one ever looks at me or talks to me. I have found that St. Louis isn’t a very friendly town.”

“Goodness Richard, why would you think St. Louis isn’t a friendly town?”

“I guess you could say that I am homeless. Or rather I am a Christian just trying to get home. I have been here for several days now. A couple of days ago I went up to a Pony Cop and asked, ‘Sir, can you tell me where a shelter is?’ He looked at me and replied, ‘What do I look like… a Street Guide?’”

I sat in stunned silence as I looked at this gentle soul with one of the loveliest smiles I have ever seen. And then I finally said, “Are you from here Richard?”

Richard and I continued our most intriguing conversation, and I discovered many things about his journey. He told me that home was Youngstown, Ohio, and he went to Los Angeles for a construction job. When he got there, the job was cancelled, and he had been traveling via bus to get back to Ohio, but ran out of money. He had been in St. Louis several days, and was staying in the doorway of a church in a “not so good neighborhood” just a couple of blocks from the top-notch hotel where we were chatting. He had spoken to a taxi cab driver that might have a painting job for him that would allow him to work for a couple of weeks and get the $103 that he said he needed for the bus ticket home.

There were so many things to discover about Richard. He wasn’t married… He had no children… He had no job… He had no car… He had no clothes… He had no cigarettes… He had no money… He had no bus ticket…. Yet he had peace in his heart that many of us will never know. Most amazingly, Richard never asked me for anything.

After about 15 minutes of conversing with Richard, I picked up my cell phone and dialed a number that I knew all too well… the private line of my VP of Operations, Corey Nappier. Most days she is the sanity in the midst of my ever chaotic life. She answered the phone, knowing it was me and assuming I was returning my call that abruptly ended just a few minutes ago. I asked her to please pull up and check fares from St. Louis to Youngstown, Ohio. There was a long pause and she hesitatingly stated, “For three?”

I replied, “No, for one.”

She further inquired, “Leaving when and returning when?”

I replied, “One way… Leaving today.”

There was a very long pause followed by, “Okkkaaayyy.”

It dawned on me that she thought I had totally been driven to the edge of insanity. Upon my realization that she thought I was going somewhere for no return, I busted out laughing and said, “Not for me!”

She informed me the fare was actually $102, and the next bus traveling over night left in approximately 5 hours. She proceeded to book it on my debit card, and dictated to me the times, confirmation number, and the address of the bus station where Richard would need to pick up the ticket.

I scribbled the necessary details on a piece of paper, disconnected from the call, grabbed some $20 bills out of my purse, and turned to Richard. I handed him the items and said, “Richard, here is your ticket home that leaves at 6:20 tonight. Take this confirmation to this address. Here is some money to get some food, because you won’t be home until tomorrow around noon.”

Richard put his head in his hands and began sobbing before my eyes. After a few seconds, he looked at me with tear stained eyes and said, “St. Louis just became the friendliest town I know!”

I gave Richard a hug, and watched as he started walking toward the bus station. He suddenly turned to me and said with the excitement of a 6 year old boy, and tears still streaming down his face, “You just got me home for Mother’s Day. I had to call my 93 year old Mama a couple days ago and tell her that I couldn’t be home for Mother’s Day.”

Once again, Richard had rendered me speechless.

As I turned to enter the hotel, tears swelled in my eyes. At that moment in time I realized how life changes can occur at any hour of any given day. Over one hour on a beautiful Midwestern spring day, one Mother’s Dream was destroyed while another Mother’s wish came true.

“To Richard… May St. Louis forever be known in your heart as the friendliest town you know, and thank you for allowing me to see for a moment in time that it matters not what we have, but it matters only what we do. You left a fingerprint on my life that will never be erased.”

-Laurie Calzada-

New Beginnings

When I was a small child, I loved visiting my grandfather’s farm located in Missouri.  There were approximately 200 acres of all the adventure a child could dream of, and springtime was my favorite!  The newness of everything that was happening… watching the wildflowers blooming in the fields… climbing trees that were filled with fresh buds… waking up to baby birds chirping at the crack of dawn… walking along the babbling brooks after the fresh spring rains… watching as new baby chickens, piglets and calves would run through the barnyards with their eyes wide open to the world around them.  The Midwestern winter months brought months of hibernation and stillness, months of snowdrifts, cold temperatures, and dreary skies.  After winter had finally had its peaceful rest, spring would slowly begin to emerge. You would see gentle and subtle signs of life.  The stillness of the winter would be well rested, and ready for a new beginning.

Are you ready for New Beginnings? You can’t have new beginnings without letting go of the old happenings.  Today is not who you are today.  Today is the building block of who you were yesterday.  Today is the building block of who you will be tomorrow.  If you want something different in life, whether it be professionally or personally, you have to start today to make it happen.  Earlier this week I was life coaching with a dear friend of mine.  I am so proud of him, because he realizes that in order to make his next relationship work, he has to do things differently.  That is the first step… Acknowledge what hasn’t worked!  Just remember, “If you keep doing what you’ve done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got!”

In an interview with Woman’s World Magazine this week, the Editor asked me the greatest advice to give someone on how to implement change.   “Embrace It!”  I realize that change isn’t always within our control, but how we react to it is within our control.  For example, I hear so many horror stories of divorce from bitter spouses.  Yes, I am divorced.  However, I have a great relationship with my ex-husband, and we talk several times a week.  Why?  Because we both were mature enough to realize we didn’t want to be married, but we both want each other to be happy.  If you hold resentment and anger toward anyone, you are just creating negative energy around you.   If you have bitterness toward anyone… a parent… a friend… a co-worker… a boss… a child…. anyone!  You are only preventing your own happiness.


Get a pen, a pad of post-it notes, and a trashcan.  Sit in a quiet meditative place, either in early morning or late night.  Do a few minutes of meditation and giving thanks for the blessings in your life.  You might be saying, “I just lost my job, lost my house and split from my loved one.”  Well, there are still things to be thankful for in your life.  It can be the feet that you can walk on…. The eyes that you can see with…. Anything.   Quiet your mind, meditate, and try to come up with at least a dozen “thankful” things. After a few minutes, take your post-it pad, and write down the first situation and/or person that you have resentment or anger toward.  Look at it, think about it for 10-15 seconds, and then tear it and throw it in the trashcan.  As you toss it away, say to yourself, “No more resentment.”  You might find there are things that you have to keep adding to the post-it notes for a few weeks.  That’s okay.  It might take you hours to do these sessions, but do it!  Once you have finished with your session, take the trashcan outside and empty all the torn pieces into the garbage can. Then one week later, do it again…. A week later, do it again, and again, and again.  The first time I did this exercise two years ago, it took me hours and I went through an entire pad of post-its.  Now, I do this once every couple of months, and I usually have a couple of things that I have to “release,” and it only takes minutes instead of hours.  You will be amazed how this will change your energy field.  People will notice a difference… guaranteed!  I have seen it over, and over again.

So, as I leave you on this first Blog, I am embracing change in my own life.  The future is very BRIGHT!

Keep living your life with passion, and remember to NEVER GIVE UP!

Laurie Calzada