Mama Juice, Paddle Boat Rides, and Peaceful Moments

Glass of red wineIt was the summer of 2007, and I was working from my lake house in the heart of the Ozarks.  It was a hot July Friday afternoon, and I had just finished a very stressful conference call with a client. We were working on a large International project, and there were people bickering back and forth. With my “conflict resolver” hat on, I tried to find a solution to some issues, rather than the finger pointing that was happening.  As I completed the call and shut down my computer, my kids were getting rowdy in the living room.  Instantly, I barked out some orders to quiet down, or they would be put in time out.

I went through the sliding glass door to the large deck that overlooked our peaceful cove.  As I was standing at the railing reviewing the call in my mind, I heard the sliding glass doors open behind me.  I didn’t hear anything, but felt as if someone was staring at me.  I turned to look behind me, and my 7 year old daughter was standing there.  As I turned, she said, “Mama, are we going to go on the paddle boat?”  It had become our tradition.  When we would spend the weekends at our second home, almost every evening at dusk I would take the kids down the cove for a sunset paddle ride.  We would each take a drink with us, and we would paddle for an hour or so, while we talked about things going on in our lives. Sometimes we would just sit and paddle, hearing the swishing of the water behind us, as we enjoyed our surroundings.

I replied without a lot of enthusiasm, “I guess we can go.  Give me a minute.”  As she started to walk back into the house, she paused as she stood at the door and turnedPaddle Boat back to me saying, “Do you need a Mama Juice?”  A huge smile came across my face, and I said, “A Mama juice sounds wonderful! Let’s go!”  Ten minutes later, we were paddling away from the dock, juices in hand… The kids had a box of apple juice in each of their cup holders, and I was still chuckling each time I took a sip of my drink. Six years later, I don’t remember if I was sipping a margarita, a mojito, or a glass of wine.  What I do remember as clear as if it was yesterday was the peacefulness and happiness I felt paddling down that cove with my little munchkins.

Next time you feel you are in a stressful situation, take a break, find a peaceful place, and have a Mama Juice or whatever your favorite indulgence is, whether it be a protein shake, a snow cone, a glass of lemon water, a beer, a margarita, or a glass of wine.

EXERCISE FOR PEACEFUL MOMENTS

The next time you feel stressed after a meeting or situation, go find a peaceful spot alone or with loved ones, and have a picnic or just sit and have a drink and talk.  Forget about the stress and focus on the peace!

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada

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Paying the Price…Paige’s Pain

It was a regular afternoon a few weeks ago, and I had completed all my tasks for the day. I was headed out the door a little after 5:00 for my evening activities when I noticed I had just missed a call from a good friend.  As I listened to the familiar voice on the message, I sat staring in silence.  She was reaching out to me to write and help produce a film on a subject that is all too familiar to me… Domestic Violence.   Flashbacks came flooding through my mind: the belt beatings, the sexual abuse, the mental abuse, the rape, the hatred… so many memories from my childhood… more than I could count.

As I returned the call, I remembered a pivotal moment in time when I decided to stop my work in child abuse prevention.  One spring day 4 years ago, after working on my book about abuse prevention, I had a meltdown.  There were just too many demons to fight while writing, and I finally told God, “I am so sorry, but I am just not your girl!”  I stopped writing and stopped speaking about it, and it has been years since I spoke about my abuse at a conference.

So, why am I here now years later, once again ready to tell the story? It is because of a man named Dave and a girl named Paige.  While listening to a radio talk show years ago, the radio host read an email from a young girl named Paige.  She was 15 years old and stated she had been raped the previous year.  She asked Dave, also an abuse survivor, how to overcome it. She stated that every time she closed her eyes, she saw “that” man.  At the time, I was preparing to travel the following week to speak at the Child Abuse Prevention Awareness organization’s annual breakfast symposium, which was in the same County where my abuse occurred.  Ironically, the radio show host had spoken at the same event the previous year.  That winter, I decided that this speaking engagement was going to be my last public appearance speaking out about my own personal abuse.

After hearing the radio show years ago, I sat in the stillness of my own home while my children slept upstairs.  I couldn’t get Paige out of my head.  She had touched my heart, filled my mind, and put a heavy burden on my soul.  After a few days of trying to get Paige out of my head, I knew I couldn’t.  I sat down as the sun was setting in the Western sky on a beautiful Missouri evening and I wrote her these words:

Dear Paige,

I understand your pain, more than you will ever know.  When your story was brought to my attention, I knew I had to write you.  There are so many people who will tell you to let it go, or they will share their words of wisdom that you must just move on.  It isn’t that easy.  I know all too well.  One thing you must first accept is that your rape has become a part of who you are.  It has molded you into a different person than you were the day before it happened. What you do with that part of your spirit is your choice… no one else’s.  Something was taken from you that you can never get back.  However, you can take trials of the past and turn them into blessings for your future.  I know that might not seem so right now, but the power is within you.

I understand what it is like to lie in bed every night for years, afraid to close your eyes.  You have fear of your past swirling in your head; the room in the darkness closes in on you, feeling that the demons will come forth from the walls that surround you.  I know what it is like to feel that no one will understand what you have gone through. You feel as if no one will accept you because you have been stripped of your dignity.  You feel as if you have no right to be with a good and honest man because he will never love you because you are used materials.

Paige, I am here to tell you that you will survive. How do I know?  Because I am a survivor of a very discolorful past.  A rape was only one portion, but an integral part of who I am today.  There was a pinnacle moment on a beautiful spring day in 1984 when I was raped at the age of 16 by a boy at my High School.   The rape came on the heels of a decade of molestation by an Uncle, and having lived with a physically and mentally abusive mother.  It was my breaking point.  I ran away for a brief time, was self destructive, and to this day carry scars within my soul.  

There isn’t a week that goes by that something doesn’t trigger something from my past.  However, I am the most blessed person I know.  Once I realized that I can’t change my past, I can only mold my future, it changed my life forever.   I now have the tremendous opportunity to share that story with people such as you.

Your rapist has absolutely no right to take your happiness, but don’t forget, he cannot do it without your consent.  Be strong… hold fast… and just remember that every 60 seconds that you think of that demon, it is a minute of happiness that you can never get back.  He wants you to be unhappy; that is why people like him steal what they have no right to possess.  The greatest revenge to your rapist is to find true happiness.  Paige, you will survive, and you will thrive; it is your God given right!

 I know that words can be comforting, but I am here to tell you that words only last for a brief moment in time.  It is the action within your spirit that will survive for a life time.  Here are three action items for you:

  • I want you to take three post-it notes, and write each of the corresponding words on them: Live… Laugh… Love.  Post them on your bathroom mirror.  Every morning when you get up, say these words out loud.  Every evening when you are getting ready for bed, say them again. 
  • Put a notepad by your bed, and every night before you turn out the light, ask yourself two questions, and write the answers in your notebook:

1.  What did I do today that I shouldn’t do?

2.  What didn’t I do today that I should have done?

  • Every time he pops into your head, think of a counter objective.  What do you love doing the most in your life?  What makes you warm and fuzzy inside?  Think of that instead.  Replace his thought with that thought.  

I am going to be honest with you Paige, you will never completely forget it happened. I just turned 40 years old, and I still have fleeting moments that I relive moments of my past.  There will be sudden moments in time that someone does something or touches you in a specific way that will make you want to crawl up a wall.  There will be the look that someone gives you, a word they say, or a scene of a movie that makes your mind reel back in time.  Don’t be afraid of it… conquer it. 

As someone who has traveled this road, let me give you the greatest advice that I have learned, and that I wish someone would have told me 24 years ago when my rape occurred.  Avoid it.  I am not saying avoid dating, sex or intimacy. They are all wonderful things that as you grow older you will learn to appreciate.  You will learn to stop and smell the roses, and learn that every day is a new day.  My advice is to avoid whatever triggers that moment in time.  It took me over 20 years to learn that there is one touch that has the capability to set me off like a firecracker being lit on the 4th of July.  It has taken me 24 years and 2 divorces to learn that small lesson in life. Sex and intimacy can be a wonderful thing, Paige.  You will experience it; I promise.  When you do, all the world that has crashed around you will be suspended in mid air.

You have a wonderful and prosperous life ahead.  Don’t let this man destroy the wonderful life you have set before you.  He may have violated you physically, but do not let him violate you spiritually.  The outside wounds will heal with time, but the spirit will last a life time.

Keep the faith, and remember to live everyday with passion,

Laurie Calzada

As I returned that fateful call about the film, I was thinking of Paige once again.  How many people in the world relate to Paige’s Pain?  Man, woman or child… They all deserve to have their stories told.  Someone needs to speak out for those that cannot speak for themselves.  That is my mission…

This week, I offer you the exercises that I gave Paige in her letter years ago.  I don’t know if this letter ever reached Paige, and I think about her often.

I ask you, please share this posting.  Post it and share it wherever you can.  Please help me get the word out.  Let’s not let Paige’s Pain be in vain…

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada

First Impressions Can be Toooooo Good!

One November evening years ago, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of retired executives and their spouses in Myrtle Beach.  At the end of the event, the hostess asked me if I would be willing to do a Q&A session.  I cordially stated that I would be delighted to conduct one, and the hostess opened the floor to the audience.

You have probably noticed I use stories of my children a lot when I write and when I speak.  Why?  Because I believe we can learn so much from the openness of our children.  They view the world with eyes wide open and fear so little.  As the questions started, there was one woman in the back row that asked me, “I noticed you talk a lot about your beautiful children, but you never mention the father.”  I answered, “Well, interesting you should ask. We are actually in the middle of a divorce, but it is a very amicable situation. Over the 12 years we were together, we became two ships in the night, headed in different directions.”  Then she proceeded to fire question after question at me such as: what business do you own, where do you live, and how much do you travel? The questions went on and on…

Finally, after several responses, the elderly woman next to her nudged her and exclaimed, “Martha, quit asking her so many questions!”  Martha didn’t miss a beat by replying in her deep southern accent, “Well, I just thought I might have a daughter-in-law here!”

Wow!  Now, there’s a first impression that was too good.  I had met this woman in a literal brief moment in time, and she was ready to marry me off to her son.

Every day, you make spontaneous decisions about people and circumstances.  Studies from NYU found within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, we make eleven major decisions about that person, both good and bad.  If that first impression is not a good impression, it can take numerous follow-up meetings to change a person’s perception.

Having spent most of my professional career in the training, coaching, and speaking world, I have met so many different types of people. Some days it is difficult when people are whining about their life to not want to say, “Look where I came from… suck it up!” However, I try to step back, look at their situation, and see it through their eyes.  When it is difficult to see it through a person’s eyes, then usually I find I need to walk away.  I truly believe that perception is the beholder’s reality, and if I can’t either see it as they would see it or try to assist in changing their perception, then often it is time to walk away.

Now, I know without a doubt that there have been negative impressions that I have left in my wake during my 44 years on earth.  However, I know there are thousands of positive impressions I have made, too.  You cannot be a “total you” without the evaluation of all aspects.  Over the years of owning multiple companies, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants for different positions, from receptionist to director level. I never believe in asking “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”  Rather, I believe in asking “In what areas do you excel, and what are your challenges with which you would like help?”  In other words, we ALL have challenges and hurdles to overcome… Yes, ALL of us.  Sometimes, people will state a weakness that is only a weakness in their own mind’s eye.

 

If you love what you do, and do what you love, people will know the instant they meet you that you are someone they want to associate with in their dealings, whether personally or professionally.

 

 

EXERCISE TO HONE IN ON YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION

 

Pick 5 people that admire you, and request a meeting or phone call with them. Ask them to mention the 5 things they admire about you the most.  Also, ask them to mention 2 or 3 challenges that perhaps you should consider.  Then, if you are truly committed to evaluating your first impression, request a meeting with two or more people that you have struggled with in your relationship, such as a boss, employee, friend, someone in a social setting, etc.  Ask them for two things they think are your strengths, and ask them for two things they view as  challenges in dealing with you.

Now, to do this, you have to have thick skin, take it seriously, and realize that this is to help you be a more well-rounded person. Several years ago, I had some people running my businesses that lied to me and stole from me.  After months of bitterness and anger, I went through this exact exercise myself.  I took over 10 people that I had issues with in my life and requested to meet for breakfast or lunch with them.  Do you know how many did it?  Only three… All of the others came up with excuses, and one emailed me stating, “I don’t want to meet you.  Just email me, because I am very curious in what you have to say.”  If she had been interested, she would have met me.  I kindly thanked them for their consideration and wished them luck.  The funny thing was, once I did this exercise, these people no longer crossed my mind or came across my path.  They were removed from my life as a barrier to my personal growth.  It was exhilarating!!!

You might be thinking why on earth should I put myself through the confrontation?  Believe me, it was difficult.  It took a humble spirit and a determined mind!  Why do it?  Because, in order for me to help others, I had to help myself first!  Going forward, I had evaluated my lessons learned, and I have found that my new first impressions would be a more positive fingerprint left on lives.

Live with passion, and always make a good first impression.

Laurie Calzada

LEARN BY LISTENING

I sit….

I listen….

I watch….

I ponder….

Voices are talking all around me.  One person is telling all the stories, and there are laughs by all.  There is never a moment of silence.  As I sit there quietly for about 15 minutes pondering the situation before me, this person continues to talk and talk.  Don’t get me wrong, she is very amusing.  This is the second time I have met her, and I realize she knows nothing about me. However, I know almost everything about her: her name, where she lives, what she does for a living, how many kids she has, how many pets she owns, the ages of her kids, what her spouse does for a living, what hours her spouse works, and even how she likes her hair cut!  I don’t think she knows my first name, let alone anything else about me.  She just talks and talks.  During this conversation, she did not ask one question to anyone.  It got me to thinking about something I teach in my Life Coaching sessions…

Remember, you never learn by talking… You learn by listening! 

Recently we watched the movie titled “A Thousand Words.”  It wasn’t an academy award winning movie, but it had an award winning message.  Eddie Murphy could only speak 1,000 words before he would die.  It was amazing the messages he could get across with 2 or 3 words, instead of using 2 or 3 paragraphs.

I related to it so well!  In my younger years, I would talk and talk.  Sometimes I had something to say, but other times I did not.  After years of coaching, I realized you learn nothing from talking. As a speaker and TV show host, I learned you impact perceptions by talking, but you actually become wiser by listening.

Have you ever sat at a table going, “Uh huh…. Oh…. Really”?  The last guy I dated was that way. Talk… talk… talk…. Sometimes it was informational, but most of it was complaining.  I felt exhausted afterwards, and it was unfulfilling.  After hours of conversation together, he had learned nothing about me.  He never asked, “How was your day?”, “How are the kids?”, or “What would you like to do?” I would walk away having learned a lot about him, though. Many times, I did not learn information that made me like him. Some of it actually made me dislike him.  I would listen, respond, and just smile.  Finally, I walked away… permanently.

Let’s address another scenario- the person that learns all the time… the person always listening.  That is sooooo my best friend.  We call her the “Great Mother Earth.”  She listens and digests information better than anyone I have ever met.  But, sometimes this is a disadvantage.  I remember one time early in our friendship we were out to dinner, and I stated, “Okay, enough about me.  Let’s talk about you.”  She shrugged and said something like, “Let’s not.”  I chuckle now, because we know each other’s deepest darkest secrets. Now when we get together, we balance our conversation well.  I want to learn as much about her as she wants to learn about me.

I am sure you can relate to these scenarios in life and work.  So, which one are you?  Are you the one that is learning, or are you the one talking?

Having owned eight businesses in 25 years, I have conducted tons of interviews with prospective job candidates.  I was always amused at the talkers.  Many times, I would get so bored with their rambling, that instead of writing notes, I would write… “one”… “two”… “three”…. I was jotting down a number each time they said a sentence.  I remember while interviewing one sales candidate, I got to 132 on just one question!   One-hundred thirty-two sentences before he shut up!  Needless to say, I wasn’t about to ask another question.  I didn’t have another 30 minutes for an answer!

So, what is the moral of the story? To shut up?  No!  The moral is to know when to talk and know when to listen.  Even more than listening, learn to read body language.  96% of communication is non-verbal.  Use it!  If you are talking and someone looks bored… The chances are they are!

Learn to listen, my dear friends…

EXERCISE TO LISTEN

Find a partner, a spouse, a friend, or a co-worker.  Make a commitment to work on being a 50/50 talker versus a listener.  Start out with Person A asking a question. Person B must answer in no more than 5 sentences.  Then have a brief interchange for 2-3 minutes. Next, Person B asks a question to Person A. Again, they must answer in no more than 5 sentences.  Then, have a brief conversation of 2-3 minutes with both people inputting information.  Keep doing this for 15-30 minutes.  Try to get together and do this at least once a week or more, if possible.  Like anything else in life, the more you practice this interpersonal skill, the better balanced you will become.

Your loved ones, children, spouses, parents, co-workers, boss and friends will thank you!

Live with passion, and learn to listen!!!

Laurie Calzada

Voices from Within

(Written Friday, July 22nd)  Today was one of those days I’ll remember forever.  It was 7:00 AM, and I was having my morning coffee on the porch. All of a sudden, I became overwhelmed with this feeling that I should attend an 8:00 AM Hot Yoga class.  I used to take a Friday morning Hot Yoga class every week, but for months I attended the Thursday evening Power Vinyasa class instead. I was already buckled down this morning to do some writing, so I pushed the thought away as I poured my second cup of coffee and checked my phone. Why would I go to yoga again when I just went to a class last night?  By then, it was almost 7:25 AM, and the anxiousness was growing very strong. My internal voice was telling me to attend the class, and I learned years ago to never ignore that little voice. Therefore, I put down my coffee, raced upstairs to throw on some scruffy yoga pants, and headed out the door.

I arrived at the studio at 7:45 AM, and the instructor was not there yet.  So, I waited in my car on the curb.  As I watched the traffic, I distinctly remember getting this edgy feeling in my stomach and thinking it was a dangerous entrance.  Not 60 seconds after that thought, I heard a screech, a huge thud, and the sound of clanging metal. One of the drivers was an elderly gentleman. He got out of his car, and blood spewed from the middle of his bald head.  The other driver was a young girl in her 20’s, and she jumped out of her Volvo, exasperated by the accident.  She looked bewildered and dazed. Another car had waved her to turn into the parking lot, but she did not notice the man traveling in the outer lane.  Her bumper and parts of her car remained a hazard in the road.

The next hour was an activity of events. I jumped from my Lexus, and pulled my First Aid Kit from my trunk.  Several others came to aid, and it appeared there were no life threatening injuries. The minutes following the accident were a fog to most people, but I vividly remember the girl named Rebecca.  Another woman and I were helping tend to the elderly man, and I turned to find Rebecca kneeling right in the middle of the sidewalk crying profusely. She kept asking, “Is he okay?” and running over saying she was sorry.

I noticed her car was leaking fluid, and I went over to verify it was transmission fluid and not gasoline.  As I walked to her car, I noticed the New York State license plates and a Wash U Student Parking sticker in the window.  It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to realize this was a young college student thousands of miles away from home, who just wrecked the car given to her by her parents.  I think she was talking to her Dad on the phone at first. Moments later, I heard her sobbing on the phone with her Mom. She was supposed to be on an 11:00 AM flight home to New York for her Grandfather’s 80th birthday. She kept repeating to everyone how sorry she was.

In the middle of the chaos, the yoga students were arriving for the 8:00 AM class. Within minutes of the accident, there were sirens whirling all around us.  The ambulance was first on the scene with two fire trucks and a police car not far behind.  The paramedics immediately took her blood pressure, and I was rubbing her back as she sat on the bumper of the ambulance.  Again, she kept asking the paramedics, “Is he okay?”  They reassured her that he was fine.  At one point, she looked up at me with huge swollen eyes and alligator tears streaming down her face and stated, “I really am just so sorry.”  A lump formed in my throat, and I fought back tears.  At that moment, Rebecca touched my heart. She was not worried about her own dire circumstances, but only concerned for the gentleman she had hit.

As the firemen were putting sand on the fluids, the police were taking statements and the paramedics were tending to wounds. There were tons of bystanders, including many yoga students and the yoga instructor.  I told the yoga instructor to go ahead and start the class, and I would stay with Rebecca.  One by one, things calmed down.  The fire trucks left, the paramedics did some final checks before leaving, the witnesses left after giving their statements. Everyone came over to check on Rebecca before they departed.  Even the elderly man came over to make sure she was okay, and he gave her his card in case she needed anything.  Again, my heart was touched.

How many times do you see an accident with people yelling, cursing, and pointing blame at someone else?  This Friday morning, I witnessed compassion and understanding.  I heard only words of encouragement and love.  I witnessed teams pulling together to fix a problem for the better good.

In the final moments, the tow truck pulled away with Rebecca’s car on a flatbed, the police left, and there we were… just Rebecca and me.  She was going to call a taxi, but I offered to help.  I took her by her home to get cleaned up and get some aspirin.  Then, I drove her to the airport.  During our journey, I found out she grew up in Manhattan, but is here for her PhD in Psychology.  She lives with her boyfriend, who just happened to be out of town for a month.

As I pulled into a parking space at American Airlines, I gave the cute curly headed Rebecca a hug and told her to enjoy her trip home.  As I left, I understood why my little internal voice had made me so anxious to go to the yoga class. It wasn’t for my body, but rather for my soul.

Many would say destiny took me there that morning to be there for Rebecca, but I believe it was Rebecca that was there for me.  She touched my heart and reminded me of a valuable lesson- in times of crises, focus on others and your own needs are met.

EXERCISE TO HELPING OTHERS

Put a post-it on your bathroom mirror or nightstand that says “What did I do for someone else today?”  Read it every morning when you get up, and read it every evening before bed.

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada

Mama Clean

It was cleaning day at my house, and my 11 year old son, Austin, was cleaning the glass top on our dining table, while I was wiping down the kitchen counters.  As I entered the dining area to check on him, he was standing with a bottle of Windex in one hand and a totally soaked paper towel in the other.   He looked up at me and stated in an exasperated voice, “Is this Mama Clean?”  I held back a chuckle as I bent down to look across the glass horizontally to inspect. I began by saying, “Wow, a good start!”  Then, I pointed out a few of the more obvious things to me. “Well, right here is a smudge, and here is a piece of crusted breakfast food that needs to be scraped off.”  He eagerly followed my finger, as I pointed out 3 different spots.   As he was scrubbing one area, I pointed out that particular spot was a scratch on the glass and wouldn’t come out.

After we finished the dining area, we moved as a team into the living room.  He picked up a can of Pledge, as I started removing items from the end tables.  As we repeated our process on the cherry wood table, he stopped, looked up at me with those dark chocolate eyes, and exclaimed, “If you ever get married again, I sure hope he knows how to make things Mama Clean, or at least makes enough money to get things cleaned!”  I laughed aloud this time, and said I would make sure that was a requirement.

As we continued cleaning the lower level, it made me think about my life, my home, my car, etc…  I asked myself, “Am I Mama Clean… free of scratches, smudges, and old crusted areas?”

I walked through my house finding anything that didn’t “belong”. Those things were tossed in the trash or put aside to donate.  Then, I went out to my car, drove to the Water Way, had it detailed, and pitched all the miscellaneous clutter that was in the glove box, trunk, etc.  While I was waiting for my car to be detailed, I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat in a cushioned chair, and wrote down 10 things to do to make my personal life “Mama Clean”.   Some were physical changes, and others were spiritual or mental.

EXERCISE TO BE “MAMA CLEAN”

 

Try to make a Mama Clean list of your own this week, but remember- don’t worry about the scratches…  You might try to buff them out, but focus on the items that can actually be “windexed” away.  The list is yours, so make it whatever you want it to be.  You can think of the items on your list as goals, resolutions, or self improvement exercises.  It doesn’t matter what you label it, just know that it is your Mama Clean List!

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada

Hidden Notes and Special Messages

Today, I was cleaning out some computer files, while working on sections for my next book.  Five levels down in one of my folders, there was a file entitled “Angeles Writing in Notebook.jpg” that was date stamped a couple of years ago.  As I double-clicked the file, I had no recollection of what the picture would display.  As the picture flashed across my screen, tears swelled in my eyes, and I let out an audible sigh as my mind flashed back.

It was a cold evening in 2009, and as the year was coming to a close, it had proven to be a year mixed with trials and tribulations, along with blessings spattered in between.  I was just ready for the year to end.  After arriving home from a long stressful day, I proceeded into the nightly routine as a single mother.  The kids had been with me at my office for a couple of hours after school, so we had not arrived home until after 7:00 PM.

Exhausted, but still moving, I prepared dinner for my munchkins and me, helped with homework, and then started barking orders to get baths, brush teeth and get into pajamas.  After several hours of our routine, I tucked my kiddos into bed, opened a bottle of wine, and went to soak my woes in a large bubble bath.   After an hour of decompressing, I booted my computer and started in on the dreadful inbox that was backed up.  As I reached for my task notebook that I carry with me EVERYWHERE, it wasn’t in my laptop case.  I was panicked… it was my life, and it wasn’t with me.  Fear struck as I thought, “Where on earth could it be.  I ALWAYS have it with me!”

I didn’t sleep much that night, and the morning came quickly.  Just hours later, I was up barking orders again trying to get the kids out the door, as I had a 45 minute drive to get them to school and then another 30 minutes to my office.  We left the house at 6:30 AM, and I finally arrived to my office at 8:00.  I was fatigued and stressed, but I tried to get in the correct frame of mind to start my busy day.

After unlocking my office door, I unpacked my computer bag and placed the items on my desk to start another stressful day ahead.  As I started sitting at my seat, I noticed my daily task book was over on the far edge of my desk and open face up.  The odd thing was that it was also facing the opposite side of my desk, where a guest would be seated in one of the cushioned chairs.  As I reached over and twirled the book around, tears started streaming down my face as I read these words:

You see, while the kids were in the office with me the previous night, I kept telling them to leave me alone so I could finish the proposal.   At one point, Angeles asked if she could have some paper, and I bit her head off telling her that we were leaving shortly, so she didn’t need it.  Not wanting to confront her stressed out Mom again, she must have reached for the closest piece of paper she could find on her own.

As I read those words that morning, it changed my perspective on so many things.  In the midst of my hectic life, she left a hidden message.  I made a commitment that day to find balance in my life.  And I did.  I changed so many things… I rarely work evenings or weekends.  We do Mommy Adventures all the time.  We have dinner and talk about the lessons we learned that day as a family.  And the biggest change that so many people cannot understand is that I had my email disconnected from my phone.  No more electronic handcuff!  As my clients, friends, and family know, do not expect me to answer emails late nights or weekends.  I challenge you to make such changes!

I forgot I had taken a picture of the notebook that day, but I have never forgotten the message within:

“A complex proposal will only last a day, but a simple message will last a lifetime.”

EXERCISE

Find someone you love today, and leave them a hidden note that has a special message.  It doesn’t have to be long and elaborate, just make it from the heart.

Thank you to my lovely baby girl that left a fingerprint on my life with a simple message in a simple notebook years ago.   It changed my life forever.

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada