Onward

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs

My New Year’s post is a little belated this year. The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me…marked by the tragedy in Newtown, the holidays, the sad news about the Russian adoption ban, attending a close friend’s mother’s funeral, and then the excitement of attending the Notre Dame/Alabama National Championship game. The game (painful as it was to watch), gave me some ideas of how to articulate my thoughts and feelings about the start of 2013, and where I am in my own personal journey.

The day after the game, the University of Notre Dame posted this on their Facebook page: “Thanks to Notre Dame Football for an outstanding season. It’s been quite a ride. Onward.” That summed up exactly how I feel – about the game, and about my life. Of course I was disappointed at how Notre Dame played, and I had wished for a different outcome. But, overall, I appreciated how amazing the season was, appreciated feeling the excitement building each week, and appreciated the opportunity to be at the Championship game, win or loss. At the end of this crazy season, despite the whooping by Alabama, Notre Dame football is better off than they were a year ago, and that is “forward progress.”

I love this concept of the “forward progress” rule in football. My loose definition is this: no matter how far the runner or receiver is pushed back by his defenders, forward progress means the ball is placed at the best possible spot – the furthest point he was able to make it before going down or out of bounds. Even if he is pushed back 10 – even 20+ yards…WAY behind the line of scrimmage, the refs pick that ball up and put it back down at the best possible spot, and the next play begins.

Now this is where I get serious…because this post in NOT about Notre Dame football. I want my life to work like the forward progress rule! And I think it can if only I can see it that way. As a concept, forward progress sounds so much better to me than the idea of “starting over.” Who wants to go all the way back to the beginning just to cover all of the same ground again? How exhausting. Not me – I want to KEEP MOVING, to figure out what I need to learn from what just happened by healing, learning, making my adjustments, and moving forward.

A few weeks ago, I was devastated by the news that Russian President Putin signed an adoption ban, no longer allowing US residents to adopt children from Russia. You see, after a long discernment process of over a year, adopting a 2-3 year old from Russia had become my “plan”. I had completed my home study this fall, and was ready to submit my application to US Immigration, only to find out a few days after Christmas that this was no longer going to be an option for me. My heart literally ached (and still does) for the 650,000 children in orphanages or foster care in Russia, and every day I pray for the 50+ families that have already been placed with their children, that they are able to complete their adoptions and take their children home. That said, I have been thinking nonstop about what happened, and trying to figure out what to do and how to move forward without having to start over from the beginning.

I don’t make decisions like this easily or quickly, and when first hearing the news about the ban, I truly felt like I had wasted over a year of my life. I felt emotionally drained, feeling like I had to go back to be the start. I felt lost and overwhelmed. Remember how mad you would get playing Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land (or Uncle Wiggly for the board game fanatics out there that can remember that one)? The end of the game is in sight, and on the last roll, you end up on that awful spot that makes you have to move back all the way back to the start.

Well, I felt like that but a whole lot worse. Life is a lot more complicated and emotional than a board game. Once again, I had to give up on the vision I made in my mind of what I had expected to happen. I had to process the loss I was feeling. I had to admit that despite every effort I had been making to have control over the process, I actually had no control. Having children, like life in general, is not geometry – there is no such thing as a straight line being the shortest distance between two points. That is not how life works.

In our own ways, we are trying our best to move the ball forward, to get to the goal line whatever that may be. We all have incredibly squiggly lines on our journeys, don’t we? At this point, my path has zigged and zagged all over the place. There are so many obstacles in our way – and sometimes we have to run out of bounds to avoid getting clobbered. Sometimes we actually get clobbered, and have to get back up, wounded and sore, take time to heal, breathe deep, and get back on the field. We take our lessons learned with us. We take the memories of those that we lost with us. We cope, heal, and start to realize that we are better people because of those lessons learned, and because we were loved by the ones we have lost.

This is my most recent picture of the Notre Dame Grotto, one of the most beautiful, peaceful places on Earth.
This is my most recent picture of the Notre Dame Grotto, one of the most beautiful, peaceful places on Earth. The Grotto gives me a great deal of comfort at times like these.

I love the idea of picking up the ball and placing in at the best spot, and NOT going back to the start. Instead of starting over at square one in my journey to motherhood, I realize now that I have gathered a great deal of knowledge about adoption that I didn’t have a year ago. I have met some amazing people, have made new connections, and have been “practicing” my risk taking abilities. I know myself better. I am continuing to try to embrace vulnerability as a strength, not as a weakness. I have dipped my toe into the “arena” (remember my reference Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena speech from my post “One Year Later), and now realize I am ready to step in with both feet firmly on the ground.

I have the courage to tell the “world” out there my story, not just my closest friends. I did NOT have that a year ago. That is forward progress.

Onward 2013.

One Year Later…

I realized a few days ago that I started my blog just over a year ago. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started it. Starting was simple. I went for a run with a close friend – someone I enjoy having deep discussions with – and I realized on that run that I had something to say that I wanted to share with the rest of the “world.”

Then, as I continued to write and find my “voice,” I realized that my blog has become an exercise in vulnerability. It has been about expressing who I am and sharing it with the rest of the world. At times, I have really questioned whether to hit the post button – do I really want people I may barely know to know my innermost thoughts and feelings?? I think I have been motivated to say yes because this is not something that is easy – and I think that discomfort means something good for me. Plus the encouragement I have received has been enormous, and has helped me to push further into the unknown.

Somewhere along the way, I found my all time favorite book called: The Gifts of Imperfection, Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,by Brené Brown.

I love this book. I have marked it up with notes, highlighters and these really cute goldfish sticky notes I bought at shop in Georgetown (same place I got the latest Wonder Woman mug). I have read and re-read it, I have taken notes in my journal about it.

My dog-eared copy of The Gifts of Imperfection

I keep it on my night stand or coffee table to refer to often. And what is so strange is that I NEVER do any of those things. Normally I read a book and am on to the next one. I haven’t taken notes about a book that I read “voluntarily”…ever!

Brené (I refer to her as Brené because I am pretty certain if we actually knew each other, we would be friends) is a researcher with a PhD in social work. She has studied shame, authenticity and vulnerability for many years, and has concluded that only one thing separates men and women who feel a deep sense of love and belonging from others who struggle for it. She writes “If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe we are worthy of love and belonging.”

Her book is about the “gifts of imperfection” – courage, compassion and connection that help us to live a more authentic, whole-hearted life.

Courage comes from the latin “cor” – which means heart. She says that originally before it morphed into heroism, courage meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all of one’s heart.” Hmmm – she is on to something.

Compassion has Latin roots meaning “to suffer with” which probably sounds scary to most people. Most of the time when we see people in pain, we either self-protect or try to fix. She says that at the heart of compassion is acceptance, and that better we are at accepting ourselves – being compassionate to ourselves, the more compassionate we can become to others.

Connection she says is “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they can derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” She also says this energy must travel in both directions – a reminder to me to seek healthy connections, healthy balanced relationships.

For me, this book is not necessarily life changing. Rather, it’s life “clearing” – a validation of the work I have been doing to have a more balanced, fuller life.

Brené is also famous for her TEDx Talk on the power of vulnerability. If you can spare 20 minutes – it is well worth every second. Almost 6 million views – clearly her messaging is resonating. Here is the link: brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

This is not easy. I fight vulnerability all of the time. To the world – my coworkers, friends and family, I want to appear capable, confident, and strong. To admit that uncertainty absolutely freaks me out, is difficult. To take a risk and admit to myself or others my deepest fears, and to figure out what I need help with – and then to ASK for that help remains to be incredibly challenging for me. Vulnerability still makes me think of getting hurt, experiencing pain, and admitting weakness.

I put so much pressure on myself to have the answers. Lately in some situations, I have been finding myself outwardly angry and resentful, and inwardly anxious and stressed – and even though I recognize what I am doing to myself, I have found it hard to resolve. My MO is to make myself busy where I don’t give myself the space to figure out what are the REAL questions are that I am struggling with. And when I say busy what I really mean that I try to numb my heart – meaning my feelings and emotions – by keeping my brain engaged whether playing Words With Friends, watching TV, reading books. I trick myself that by doing something that actually is constructive for my head – but at the sacrifice of my heart.

So now I know I need to sit in some big questions and contemplate how to better live with uncertainty.

And thankfully – I have Brené’s books to help me practice. I just picked up her newest book released this week called “Daring Greatly.” The title comes from a speech by Teddy Roosevelt known as “The Man in the Arena” speech.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

I would like to dare greatly. I want to be in the “arena” and not the supporting actress in my own life. I would like to redefine vulnerability and think of it as the key to courage – and not a measure of weakness. I can’t wait to pick this one up – I have my post its and highlighters ready!

More to come later…

Moving Day

Tonight I am spending my first night in my new home. I made good progress with my move. The kitchen is completely unpacked and organized thanks to my sister in law Catherine and my good friend Janet, who I challenged to bring her “Six Sigma” skills to this kitchen “project.”

My new kitchen

Catherine and Janet, in addition to my brother Geoff, met and exceeded my expectations with their generous offer to help me get ready for Moving Day.

After a week of packing and moving, tonight, I am too tired to really think or write very coherently, but my mind is racing so I figured I would sit and write to sort through my thoughts and feelings.

On one hand, I am really freaked out. I am doing this on my own – and I am so out of my comfort zone. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I fix things with mounting tape and a glue gun. I have never mowed a lawn in my life. I kill plants, and have been unsuccessful at growing grass to mask the abundant weeds in my previous rental home. So many things are unpredictable with home ownership and now there is no landlord to call when something breaks like the AC. It’s all up to me. But you see, over the last couple years, I was a landlord in a house that I didn’t live in…and once I finally sold it, I realized that I was already doing what I was scared to do! So what’s the big deal?

So on this other hand, I am totally psyched. I feel confident that I can do this. Yes – I have made and will continue to make mistakes. I’ll use the wrong color to touch up a wall, and not care that it doesn’t quite match (yes, this has already happened.) I’ll just cover the wall with some art until I am ready for a paint project! I’ll get scared about being able to afford the mortgage. I’ll still fix things with tape and glue when it seems to make sense. But now, I’ll think and feel about these things differently. Because I can think about things in the long term rather than as a temporary state of being…

You see, I realized something about myself – or maybe I was just reminded of something that I had forgotten. I am a “nester”. I crave my own space – my “own” space – aha! I like forming roots. That is part of what literally grounds me. To me, a house is not just an investment of money. It’s an investment of time, effort – and love – to maintain, and to improve. It’s a refuge from the rest of the world. It’s a place to reminisce about fond memories, and to contemplate what others may lie ahead.

Yes, my life just got a lot more complicated. I was debt free for all of 34 days. I was thinking of going on a major vacation like a safari, and instead I bought a house. I could have kept my life more simple – to travel more, to minimize, to have the freedom to relocate without too much complication. But – that is not who I am.

I just unpacked a few boxes that hadn’t been touched in over two years. And I was filled with contentment to find space for the things that are important to me.

Redefining The Wall

My brother Geoff, his wife Catherine, and I “competed” in the “Warrior Dash” in Huntersville, NC this Saturday. I am not sure how I got involved in doing this with them…I think I’ll blame Groupon. And maybe my friend Janet, my running buddy, because she has been trying to convince me to do something like this for a while. So when Catherine sent me the Groupon for the race (so she may have some culpability in this as well), I had to decide quickly because that is how Groupon gets you. Half price to risk my life – what a bargain! In the spirit of my journey to take more risks in 2012, I signed up.

The Warrior Dash is the world’s largest foot race with obstacles…which included a fire pit, a muddy pond, a rope bridge, tires, beat-up cars, and a long crawl through mud covered in barbed wire as well as many walls with varying heights, angles, aids, and treachery. All of these things we ran over, under, through or around for 3.08 miles to get to the finish line. To get a feel of what we did, check out this out. A guy with some kind of camera/helmet thingy, carrying an American flag, made this 3 minute video of our race from Saturday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfNISwztIEY

In preparing for the race, I tried not to stress out about how I was going to handle the obstacles. I knew I could always skip ones that were too hard – I wasn’t running to win anything. And I knew I would get a medal just for crossing the finish line…and a free beer!  I just wanted to have fun with Geoff and Catherine and knew we would have a lot of laughs. So I concentrated on what I was going to wear and how I was going to style my hair given how dirty I was likely to get. No other training besides my regular running routine took place.

What happened on race day exceeded my expectations in so many ways. First, some of the obstacles were a LOT harder than I expected. After a trek through a few disgustingly muddy obstacles in the woods, we found ourselves facing a 20+ ft rock climbing wall. If you don’t know what this is, please let me explain. It is a vertical wall with little tiny ledges you use for your hands and feet to climb. There are no harnesses or safety nets. This is probably why we each had to sign the waiver about 30 times with our names and initials. Anyway, my point is that our shoes were caked with mud and we were to climb this thing and not fall off. Add the fact that I am pigeon-toed and you have a recipe for disaster. Geoff and Catherine were like spider monkeys…I was so impressed! So I gave it a shot and up I went.

What I didn’t realize is that after about 6 feet up, it became much scarier to think about coming down from whence I came than it was to continue…so I kept going up and tried not to think about anything. I got to the top with a little nudge from the guy below me and a kinda crazy tuck and roll move onto the platform. Whew!! Then, as if that isn’t enough, when I got to the top of this thing, I had to leap out about 4 feet and grab a fireman’s pole to slide down. And then about 6 more obstacles to go after this…

Another thing that exceed my expectations is that I got a lot dirtier and wetter than I ever imagined.

There was no way around the muddy pond obstacle except through it…and the water was over our heads. Ick!!! We came out of it covered in what Geoff called pond seaweed…but I called pond scum. Ugh. It was at least as awful as it looks in that video.

By the time we got to the end, we no longer cared about how gross we were. Well, maybe I did, because I scratched up my elbows and hands pretty good trying to not immerse myself in mud in the final mud crawl under the barbed wire obstacle…

In the end, I completed more of the obstacles than I thought that I would (11 out of 12). Geoff and Catherine did ALL of them – I am in awe. I always have a goal for each race I enter… sometimes it is about time, sometimes distance, and sometimes it is about simply finishing. For the Warrior Dash, my goal was to have fun with Geoff and Catherine and to not hurt myself. Minus a few scrapes, blisters and bruises, I did what I set out to do and then some. Geoff, Catherine and I have stories that will last us a lifetime, and hilarious pictures for our Christmas cards.

But – this story can’t be a true blog post without my comments on my lessons learned.

So I got to thinking about something I have heard my dad say about me and my siblings many times. He says if there was a wall, my older sister Jacquie would bust through to the other side, that I would find a way to “dance” around the wall to get to the other side, and that Geoff would choose stay on his side of the wall. Let me tell you he was right that I did run around (not exactly dance) one wall that I just couldn’t get over. But – I saw my brother in action, and he was fearless conquering the multitude of walls that we encountered on Saturday, and I know he has conquered many other kinds of “walls” in his life as well.

So here is what I think. The idea of “The Wall” can mean different things to different people. And it can mean different things to us at different times of our lives. It can represent risk, and it can represent boundaries. The “wall” can mean it’s time to rest, and it can mean it’s time to push through. The wall can conjure danger, opportunity, obstacles, and safety. The key is to increase our awareness of the walls that exist in our lives so that the walls don’t control us. It’s not that we control them either. Rather, we recognize the walls – understand them, define them, and figure out what they means to us – and then we can make conscious choices with our actions, thoughts and feelings about how we cope with these walls in our lives.

Also, as a side note, I learned at the rock climbing wall that sometimes the risk of moving ahead is worth it compared to the pain of going backwards. What a metaphor, right? On the same said wall, and in the pond scum obstacle, I learned that help from a friend or a stranger is there if you ask and are willing to accept the help.

Will I do the Warrior Dash again next year – absolutely! As long as Catherine and Geoff are there to help me, and maybe we can get Jacquie out there too.

Oh Marie!

This is a story about my Mom, Marie, whose birthday is tomorrow. I have told this story a few times this week – because it’s funny, and is such a great example of what makes my mom so special. I will tell it here – again, because it will hopefully make others chuckle…and because I think there is something we can all learn from my mom about the joy of living life to the fullest.

My mom and dad just returned from a vacation that they touted as a “Big Chill Weekend” to visit their friends from high school that they hadn’t seen in many, many years. Clearly, they were anticipating having a fun, and possibly somewhat decadent time with old friends…and that is exactly what happened.

Here is the evidence:

My mother Marie at the tattoo parlor.
The end result. A palm tree.

Mom sent these pictures to all of our family with no explanation whatsoever. I literally was sitting in my cubicle at work when I opened the email, and I may have said an expletive or two out loud when I saw these pictures for the first time. My family’s reactions were so varied – and gave me a lot to think about over the last few days. My brother wasn’t too happy that he would have to explain to his young children how and why “Nina” got “inked.” I saw the pictures and immediately called my father in disbelief to get the story – and was relieved to discover the tattoo was airbrushed…whew!! My sister – the street smart one in our bunch – figured out that it was airbrushed from the picture and was completely nonplussed. My father was and is still trying to garner support from all of us being, in his words, “a united front” in disapproval of my mother ever getting a real tattoo.

As I told this story and sent the pictures around to some friends, I realized that I was doing so with a significant amount of pride and joy for my mom. Yes – my reaction had been authentic – I was relieved she didn’t get a real tattoo. But – I would seriously not have been surprised if she had actually done it – or if she does do it sometime in the future. That is who she is – someone who takes risk, who enjoys having fun, and who frankly doesn’t care all that much about what people think. She is the kind of person who will jump in the water with her clothes on…or will jump in her outdoor hot tub without them (both of these things have definitely happened). Do I want to erase that mental picture from the hot tub?? Maybe. Do I want to erase that memory and the hilarious story that ensued – absolutely not!! My mom is often unfiltered and uninhibited – speaking and acting from the heart.

I have learned so much from my mom about taking risks, about being true to who you are, about being passionate and joyful in the moment. When I tell these funny stories to my friends, I always say that I hope that I am the kind of person who would do the same things at her age. I hope that I take risks, that I am true to who I am, that I jump in the water and enjoy the moment now and at any age the way that she does.

Happy Birthday Mom!

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

Life Without Cruise Control

Today I decided was going to be different. Let’s back up. I had planned my eight hour drive to Wintergreen Resort in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia a few days ago. As I always do, I used Google Maps to plot my course before the trip, and I found two options; Option 1: The Scenic Route; Option 2: The Interstate. Both options were within 20 minutes of each other, so I immediately chose Option 2 because I knew these roads, and therefore knew what to expect. It’s all about minimizing risk,… right? Hmmm I don’t think so.

Favorite greeting card with the perfect message

Fast forward to today. I got in my car, programmed Hugh (my GPS with the Australian male voice), and sat for a few moments while he found his satellite connection. Hugh picked the Scenic Route for me…so I sat in my driveway and reconsidered my decision. The voices in my head started up: What if I break down in the middle of nowhere? What if I get a flat tire? What if I get stuck behind a slow car? What if I get lost? Could my day turn in a Stephen King novel or an episode of Vampire Diaries? Hmmmm.

Then I shifted my view of what my day could be like.

What if I see a part of SC and NC that I hadn’t seen before? How could the adventure of these twists and turns on the scenic route give me energy for the drive? What unexpected stops might I enjoy along the way? All of a sudden, I remembered one of my favorite family car trips as a child where Dad drove us along a creek just to see if he could find a place to eat lunch – and we ended up finding a little waterfall. Could my day be memorable like that day 30+ years ago?

Listening to Casey Kasem’s best hits of 1983 on the radio and feeling inspired to have a new experience, I put my trust in Hugh and off we went. The trip started great – singing along to Lionel Richie, Culture Club, Falco, and Men at Work, I was feeling both energized and peaceful. I lost Casey’s signal about 2 hours in…so I plugged in the iPod and hoped for the best as I pulled off the Interstate and onto State Road 52 in Florence. Ahhh…all was right with the world…Blue Sky set the tone for the next few hundred miles as I let my iPod shuffle my music and I explored places like Society Hill and Cheraw, SC. I can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed behind the wheel of a car – not one orange cone or truck in sight.

As I drove, I thought about how different this drive was than it could have been. If I had taken Option 2 – I would have programmed my cruise control – and gotten annoyed every time a bad driver forced me to click the brake to release it. Maybe even more than annoyed. Probably more than annoyed. I would have been on the SAME highway I have taken probably hundreds of times…yes I would have known what to expect – really boring highway with trucks and drivers who don’t know how to use the left lane properly. I would have arrived after eight hours exhausted, hyped up on caffeine and would have had trouble falling asleep.

Instead, here I was feeling connected…peaceful, and yet full of energy. Hugh was my co-pilot keeping me from getting lost, not a gadget that I had to “beat”. I felt happy that I took the “road less travelled” and vowed to be wary of the temptations and security of cruise control in my future.

And then I started thinking about what this shift in outlook could have on my life in general.

What could my life be like if I took a different path? Yes – most of the time I have a destination (or a goal) in mind. But what new possibilities could exist for me if I chose another way to get there? Could I feel the same energy – the same peacefulness, the same connectivity between my head and my heart that I was feeling right now? What could my life be without cruise control?

What WILL my life be without cruise control?